Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao on Saturday arrived in Harbin, capital of northeast China's Heilongjiang Province, to inspect the water pollution of the Songhua River and the public water supply system.
The premier visited cadres and the people in Harbin on behalf of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC), the State Council and President Hu Jintao.
At 4 PM, Wen presided over a meeting and heard reports by the provincial government and related departments.
He affirmed the work done in ensuring the public water supply in Harbin, noting that the governments must be highly responsible for the health and safety of the people.
Surveillance of water pollution must be strengthened at cities, towns located along the river and the public must be kept informed in time, said Wen.
Comprehensive measures must be taken to ensure people's demand of drinking water and the quality for the water. Labor force, equipment and materials must be allocated in transferring water and digging wells, he said.
Wen urged water plants to strengthen preventive efforts against pollution and ensure supply and storage during the water-pausing period, and urged to ensure water use in schools, hospitals and heating systems.
"We must not make one single person short of drinking water, nor can we make one drink polluted water," he told officials at the meeting.
He also called for evaluation of environment after the polluted water passed by and complete measures of cleansing the pollutant. Impacts of the pollutant on the whole river needs to be investigated as well, he said.
Besides, Wen reiterated at the meeting of production safety, particularly the safety of producing flammable, explosive and dangerous chemicals. Those responsible for the Songhua River pollution must be punished, he noted.
China will keep Russia well informed and strengthen bilateral cooperation.
The premier finally asked the local authorities to maintain normal production and life order, strengthen control of prices of drinking water and relevant products, and keep the public informed of the situation and the measures taken by the government.
Before the meeting was held, Wen and State Councilor Hua Jianmin visited the Third Water Plant of Harbin at 1 PM He was pleased on hearing 700 tons of active carbon had been delivered to the city.
"You are shouldering the responsibility of resuming water supply. I hope you will work harder," Wen said to soldiers and factory staffs who were busy downloading bags of active carbon.
Later, Wen visited the Central Shopping Mall & Supermarket in the central city. Seeing crowds buying things and bottles of mineral water filled on shelves, Wen asked a resident if he had difficulties in having clean water at home.
"We have stored more than we can use," said the resident Zhang Xiaohua.
"Don't worry. The water supply will resume in two days," Wen told Zhang.
The Premier then inspected the Songhua River at 1:30 PM, and urged local departments to strengthen water surveillance.
In the afternoon, Wen also visited the people at a residential compound in Nangang District, telling the residents that he was grateful to their understanding and support and the cooperation with the government.
At 2 to 4 PM, the premier went to visit the workers at a well-drilling field and talked with college students at their dormitory.
The Songhua River in northeast China's Heilongjiang Province, suffered major water pollution as a result of a blast that had occurred in the China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) Jilin Petrochemical company on November13.
The CPC Central Committee and the State Council have ordered local and relevant authorities to strengthen surveillance, provide accurate information and take effective measures to ensure water supply and water safety to the people. A working team and some experts sent by the State Council have also arrived in Harbin to guide the anti-pollution efforts.
As the polluted water in Songhua River is expected to flow into the Heilongjiang River (also called Amur River in Russia) on the Sino-Russian border, Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing on Saturday informed Russian Ambassador to China Sergey Razov of the situation of the Songhua River's water pollution and measures taken by the Chinese government to tackle the issue.
Also on Saturday, China informed the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) of the river pollution.
(Xinhua News Agency November 27, 2005)