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Beijing to Double Sewage Treatment Capacity for 2008 Olympics

The Chinese capital Beijing is planning to double its sewage treatment capacity by the year 2005 as part of its efforts to become a clean and environmentally-friendly host of the 2008 Olympics.

"By 2005 Beijing will develop a sewage treatment capacity of 2.62 million tons every day, almost the same as world metropolises like New York and Tokyo. This capacity will improve further by 2008," official sources within the Beijing Municipal Government predicted.

Despite four new sewage treatment plants put into use last year, Beijing currently has a daily sewage treatment capacity of only 1.28 million tons, some 42 per cent of the total sewage generated in the city every day.

To achieve its ambitious goal, the Beijing government this year will launch or continue the construction of 7 more large sewage treatment plants involving a total investment of 7 billion RMB yuan (US$870 million), official sources say.

The city will also spend 6.27 billion yuan (US$780 million) on 15 smaller projects to clean up more than 30 local rivers and 26 lakes covering some 600 hectares.

"In the next five years, the ancient rivers and lakes across the capital city will be restored to their old looks during the Ming and Qing dynasties (1368-1911 A.D.) and will add unique scenery to the capital," said one official.

To overcome a funds shortage, the Beijing Municipal Government is trying to seek foreign capital to participate in all sewage treatment projects.

"Beijing welcomes overseas businesses to join its sewage treatment projects in various ways. All forms of investment, from sole funding or joint venture to BOT (build, operate and transfer), are acceptable to us," Liu Qi, mayor of Beijing, said last month while receiving a foreign business delegation.

Senior officials with China's Ministry of Water Resources also pointed out the need to commercialize the sewage treatment sector.

China should learn from some foreign countries and collect water pollution treatment fees from water users, they suggested.

(People's Daily June 20, 2002)

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