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Lake merits first ever public hearing
By Qin Chuan (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-04-14 05:39

A project to cover a lake bed in plastic yesterday became the subject of the State Environmental Protection Administration's first ever public hearing on environmental impact.

The lake in Yuanmingyuan Park in northwestern Beijing, was being lined with impermeable membrane to try and stop water leaking away.

But the plan, which had already swung into action, was slammed by some environmentalists who said sealing the lake bed could have a disastrous effect on local ecology.

At the end of March, the State Environmental Protection Administration ruled the project was illegal because it had not undertaken an environmental impact assessment, as required by law.

The project was stopped in early April, but sources with the Yuanmingyuan Administration Bureau said work to line the lake bed was almost finished.

A total of 120 people, ranging from an 11-year-old primary school student to experts in their 80s, attended the hearing, at which dozens expressed opinions for and against the project.

Apart from environmental concerns, some participants argued the project was undertaken for purely business purposes.

The park bureau's plan shows boating on the lake is to be expanded, and new docks are being built.

But bureau officials and some other experts say the project is the only option to ease the park's extreme thirst.

In addition to the lake bed project, other activities carried out in the park also aroused public criticism.

Yu Kongjian, with the Peking University, showed pictures of trees and bushes in the park cut down by workers.

Speaking at the hearing, Xue Ye, executive director of Beijing-based non-government organization (NGO) Friend of Nature, called for a united management mechanism to be set up including officials, experts, and residents and NGOs.

(China Daily 04/14/2005 page1)

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