Deputies to the National People's Congress (NPC) attending the current annual session here have drawn the attention to the pressing water pollution problems at the multi-billion Three Gorges dam project.
"If no immediate efforts are made, the water body is sure to deteriorate after the coming second damming of the river for storing water to generate power," said Chen Wanzhi, a deputy director of the municipal environmental protection bureau of Chongqing Municipality in southwest China.
The dam is located at the juncture of Chongqing Municipality and Hubei Province, covering 21 cities and counties totaling 59,900 sq.km. The area is often hit by landslides and mudflows. Soil erosion is serious. Pollution generated by cities along the Yangtze River, the longest in China, threatens the water quality of the dam area.
According to Chen, investigations by the water resources bureau show that the Three Gorges Area is suffering from such environmental problems as the pollution of drinking water sources by garbage and wastewater in large quantity as well as soil erosion caused by resettlement of local residents and towns displaced by the dam project.
The large amount of garbage washed down by floods into the river pollutes the water and will threaten the power-generating facilities, he noted.
According to the Three Gorges Construction Committee under the State Council, the central government plans to invest 43.22 billion yuan in controlling pollution and geological disasters in the area, including 39.22 billion yuan earmarked for improving the quality of water.
Zhang Rongguo, another NPC deputy and deputy director of the designing institute of the Yangtze River Water Conservation Committee, said that in recent years, the government has launched a series of costly programs to curb soil erosion resulting from deforesting. The environmental situation in the area has remained serious in general, though there are some improvements locally, Zhang said.
He urged departments concerned to simplify procedures of approval on environmental projects so as to implement the protective measures as early as possible. "Time and tide wait for no man," he stressed.
(Xinhua News Agency March 11, 2002)