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NPC Deputy Calls for Legislation to Protect Yangtze River
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A Chinese lawmaker on Monday called for an immediate legislation to blueprint development along the Yangtze River valley with a focus on curbing ecological deterioration.

"We still face a grave situation in protecting the Yangtze River though progress has been made in containing ecological and environmental deterioration along it during the past years," said Ding Haizhong, a deputy to the National People's Congress (NPC) from Ma'anshan City by the river.

The Yangtze River valley, which has developed into an economic powerhouse of the country, covers an area of less than one-fifth of China's land territory, is home to one-third of China's 1.3 billion population. One-third of the country's grain output and gross domestic product comes from the valley.

"After more than half a century's hard work, we have achieved remarkable results in the protection, harnessing and development of the Yangtze River, but reckless development in some areas and lack of financial input over the past years have resulted in water pollution, posing a serious threat to the ecosystem along the river," he said.

"We must draw out a law on the protection of the Yangtze River as soon as possible, which concerns the welfare of the more than 400 million people along the valley and the sustainable economic and social development of the country," said Ding, the top leader of the city, who is here attending the fourth annual session of the NPC scheduled to close Tuesday.

On Sunday, a political advisor called on the government to rein in construction of bridges spanning the longest river of the country to facilitate shipping between the sea and China's interior areas.

Jin Yihua, a member of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, which just concluded Monday morning, said since the first bridge across the Yangtze was open to road traffic, 39 bridges have been erected and the number is expected to reach 124 by the year 2020.

"This means one bridge in less than 30 km across the nearly 3, 000-km-long trunk of the river by that time," said Jin, who is also director of the Yangtze River Shipping Administration.

The advisor suggested that local authorities build more tunnels under the river than bridges over it when they make plans to increase highway transportation.

The government should control the distance between bridges to more than 80 km over the Yangtze trunk on the middle and upper reaches starting from Wuhan in central China and that to more than 100 km downstream, he suggested.

The existing bridges that affect shipping should be transformed, he added.

(Xinhua News Agency March 13, 2006)

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