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Shanghai Casts Big Funds Into River Cleanup

The cleanup of the Suzhou Creek along with 25 other projects is to be completed this year following an investment of 52.4 billion yuan (US$6.34 billion).

Currently 76 projects to be completed are expected to cost 200 billion yuan (US$24.18 billion), double the amount of money spent on projects in 2000 and the most ever spent on projects in the city's history.

The treatment of the polluted Suzhou Creek, the No 1 priority on the schedule, is expected to have its first phase completed by the end of this year.

Since 1998, 4.2 billion yuan (US$508 million) has been spent on the cleanup of the creek which was notoriously known for being a sewage dump. Around 90,000 tons of sewage has since been stopped from being splashed into the creek.

The whole project is estimated to cost 20 billion yuan (US$2.42 billion), depending on the number of investors that come forward.

By 2010, it is hoped that the river will once again be clean enough to encourage marine life back to the area.

"We are feeling the pressure but we are confident that we will reach our goal," said Zhu Xipei, chief of the comprehensive secretary division of the head office of the rehabilitation project.

This is the first time that the city has attracted such publicity for an environmental project.

"It is not surprising because Shanghai has been viewing the treatment of the creek as a move to build up and improve its image," Zhu said. It is a project where it is hoped that the results will improve the natural environment, the quality of life for local residents and the city's international attractiveness, he added.

The head office will shortly arrange the digging out of a surface layer of the sludge deposited in the lower section of the creek to help the biological system resume.

The improvement of the quality of water will take some time yet.

One reason is that Taihu Lake, the origin of the creek, is still severely polluted. Another reason, according to the official, is that some people still fail to realize the importance of protecting the environment and continue to dump waste into the creek.

"Rome was not built in a day. The treatment of rivers takes a pretty long time," Zhu said. "We are prepared for that."

With the government's attention, and awareness from the public as well as cooperation from enterprises are all favorable factors to facilitate the task.

(China Daily March 7, 2002)

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