Abdulla Abbas, a National People's Congress (NPC) deputy from the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, on Saturday submitted a proposal outlining measures to cope with the worsening ecological system in the Tarim River Valley.
Abbas, also vice dean of the Xinjiang University Life Science and Technology School, is attending the Third Session of the 10th NPC, which convened in Beijing on Saturday.
The Tarim River provides water to millions of people in Xinjiang. The main plants in the river valley, diversiform-leaved poplar and rose willow, can help to curb desertification: a single tree can fix 10 to 100 cubic meters of sand.
The trees are now critically endangered as local residents fell them to use as firewood. The emissions from many local oil refineries also cause nearby trees to wither.
The shortage of water is also contributing to the tree' demise. Annual precipitation in Xinjiang is quite low, so to ensure water supplies for humans, livestock and agriculture, numerous diversion channels have been built to bring in snow melt. However, these cement channels prevent water from filtering into the soil and the nearby trees shrivel and die for lack of moisture.
Oil and natural gas drilling also consumes enormous quantities of available water resources.
Abbas proposed that Xinjiang make full use of its abundant natural gas resources, giving every household access to this fuel to replace firewood.
Also, oil and natural gas companies should be required to appropriate funds to reduce harmful emissions and control water usage.
Last, he suggested that a program be put in place to regularly irrigate poplars and willows located near water diversion channels.
(China.org.cn by staff reporter Tang Fuchun, March 6, 2005)