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Two provinces to help keep water clean
( 2003-10-17 02:16) (China Daily)

China has launched 260 projects to curb water pollution along the eastern line of the south-to-north water-diversion scheme.

The projects are the largest of their kind and involve total funding of 13.6 billion yuan (US$1.64 billion).

They will be completed in two phases over the next five years.

An official in Beijing announced on Wednesday that, between this year and 2007, 8.7 billion yuan (US$1 billion) is to be provided by East China's Shandong Province, which is one of the provinces hardest hit by drought. The rest of the money is to come from Jiangsu Province along the Yangtze.

Zhang Jiyao, head of the State Council office in charge of water-diversion project, urged Jiangsu and Shandong  "to make water clean along the line running through their provinces.''

He said:  "Water security on the line plagued by many chronic sources of contamination is vital to the diversion project.''

The State Council has earmarked one-third of the budget for the diversion canal for various pollution-control projects, including waste-water treatment plants and facilities using recycled water for industry and irrigation.

 "Such intense investment is unprecedented for key water projects built in China and shows the central government's decisiveness about tackling the issue,'' Zhang said.

He added:  "Although such huge investment is not easy for either the central government or local authorities, we have to make it.''

Officials from Jiangsu and Shandong signed agreements on water-pollution control with Zhang's office yesterday. The officials promised to ensure that the quality of the water along the line inside their provinces would reach at least grade III, the minimum standard for drinking water, before 2007.

Under the agreements, hundreds and possibly thousands of polluting enterprises along the eastern line will be forced to close if they fail to meet the standard within five years, environmental experts said.

Polluting factories such as paper pulp mills have to pay to put right the damage they cause, while enterprises that do well in curbing pollution will get pollution-prevention subsidies from the government, sources close to Zhang's office confirmed.

Local authorities have to take responsibility for any new pollution within their jurisdiction, Zhang said. He called on the media to  "step up supervision over the course of the pollution-control measures.''

China started work in December last year on the gigantic project to divert water from the mighty Yangtze River to the country's parched north. There will be more than 1,000 kilometres of canal.

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