China will charge urban dwellers for sewage and garbage disposal before the end of 2007 in a move to protect the deteriorating environment.
The country will use the price lever to promote environmental protection, said Chen Deming, vice chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) at an ongoing working conference on economic reform in southwest China's Chengdu.
The money collected will then be used to build sewage disposal plants and finance their operation, Chen told Xinhua.
Many sewage disposal plants in the country are not well run due to a lack of funding, said the vice chairman. In some regions, people even discharge untreated waste water, he added.
NDRC statistics show that China under-processes sewage and also under-charges. In 36 mid and large-scale cities, only 55 percent of sewage is treated and the 8.7 US cents charged per ton of waste water only covers 67 percent of the treatment cost.
Another 600 cities have not built sewage disposal plants and many of them do not charge disposal fees.
Regarding garbage disposal, Chen said garbage must no longer simply be buried. Some garbage will be recycled, he said, but these projects require financial aid.
He said that charges will be scaled to reflect the amount of discharge and local governments will be responsible for collecting the fees.
Low-income groups will receive subsidies, said the vice chairman.
(Xinhua News Agency April 3, 2007)