On behalf of the Sichuan provincial government and governor Zhang Zhongwei, Liu Xiaofeng, vice governor of the province, delivered the "Second Report on Pollutions of the Tuojiang River" and apologized to the victims affected by the pollution accidents at the ninth meeting of the standing committee of the Tenth Sichuan Provincial People's Congress Monday afternoon.
Two incidents of serious industrial pollution occurred in the Tuojiang River valley in this southwest province in March and May respectively.
Liu had reported the pollution of Tujiang River to the standing committee on April 13 and the members of the committee made criticisms and proposals on issues such as the handling of emergencies, investigation and punishment of responsible units and persons, and compensations for pollution-hit units and people.
On April 30, at a televised meeting, the Sichuan Provincial Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and the provincial government announced the decisions on the punishment of the polluter, the Sichuan Chemicals Co. Ltd., and responsible persons.
On May 3, once again, serious pollution hit the middle reaches of the Tuojiang River, killing over 40,000 kilograms of fish and causing a direct loss of 897,000 yuan (US$108,508). On May 11, the Meishan municipal government decided to punish the relevant units and persons in the case.
Liu said that the occurrences of the twin serious pollution cases on the Tuojiang River are actually inevitable. It revealed deep-rooted defects in the province's environmental protection work. He urged governments at all levels in Sichuan to draw lessons from the mishaps.
He pointed out that in 1992 and 1998 respectively, the standing committee of the Sichuan Provincial People's Congress made decisions on pollution control on the Tuojiang and Minjiang rivers and raised concrete goals and requirements for the provincial government. In the past years, the provincial government established special offices for that mission and drew working plans but failed to carry the plans out in earnest, which resulted in the chain pollution cases.
Liu admitted that officials' poor awareness, slack supervision, insufficient investment, loose management and law enforcement are the five major problems in the province's environmental protection work.
Liu disclosed that his government has devised measures to rectify deficiencies in its environmental protection work.
The government will intensify prevention and control of industrial pollution along major river valleys, focusing on the five main sectors of chemical industry, food, brewage, leather and printing/dyeing that involve 52 heavy-polluting enterprises.
The government will also accelerate prevention and control of pollution from living wastes along major river valleys in the province. It will soon build 22 sewage treatment plants and 31 urban garbage treatment plants in the Tuojiang and Minjiang river valleys. In addition, the province will launch comprehensive pollution-control projects in valleys of smaller rivers to ensure the safety of drinking water.
Meanwhile, merits in pollution control will be set as a major criterion for the appraisal of government officials. Those who have had major pollution mishap in his jurisdiction will be considered unqualified.
The province will allot an additional fund of 7 million yuan (US$846,771), besides the approved annual budget of 7.2 million yuan (US$870,964), to construct 11 pollution surveillance systems in the Minjiang and Tuojiang river valleys, revamp the provincial environmental surveillance center and build 11 surveillance stations in 11 cities to handle pollutions in the minor valleys of Minjiang and Tuojiang rivers.
The government has also promised to raise another 50 million yuan (US$6.05 million) this year for purifying the province's drinking water.
Liu said governments at various levels in Sichuan are subject to the supervision of the people's congresses and their standing committees at corresponding levels, the media as well as the people. They should seek help from the whole society to promote environmental protection.
(China.org.cn by Chen Chao, June 3, 2003)