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Sewage Treatment Goes Private

Beijing Sound Environmental Industry Group (Sound Group) has agreed to build sewage treatment plants in 11 major Chinese cities.

The privately owned company signed agreements in Beijing yesterday with representatives from the 11 cities which include Golmud of Northwest China's Qinghai Province, Jinshan District of the Shanghai Municipality, and Huanggang and Xiangtan of Central China's Hubei Province.

These sewage treatment plants, with a combined daily handling capacity of more than 1.7 million tons, require a total investment of about 2 billion yuan (US$240 million), according to Wen Yibo, president of the Sound Group.

Wen said his company will be responsible for project financing and constructing the plants in the form of build-operate-transfers (BOT).

"These projects are expected to recoup investment within 10 years after completion and then begin earning profits by collecting sewage treatment fees from work units or individuals producing sewage," he said. "The plants will be transferred to related government departments 25 years later."

Qu Geping, a professor of the Environmental and Resources Protection Committee under the National People's Congress, said Sound Group's move is a breakthrough in dealing with urban polluted water, because local governments do not have sufficient funds to build and operate sewage treatment plants.

Sound Group may help bring more privately owned enterprises to participate in the country's sewage treatment, he said.

Statistics from the State Environmental Protection Administration indicate that Chinese cities and towns produce 137 million tons of sewage each day, of which 80 percent is not treated and flows into rivers and seas.

The State Council earlier this year issued a notice requiring that all cities and towns should start developing sewage treatment plants during the 10th Five-Year Plan period (2001-05).

(China Daily 06/15/2001)

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