Vice-President of the Chinese Academy for Environmental Planning Zou Shoumin has denied reports that after a 60 billion yuan (US$7.2 billion) investment, pollution levels along the Huaihe River have remained unchanged for a decade.
"Those reports are groundless," Zou was quoted by the China News Service as saying.
According to figures released by the authorities, an investment of about 19 billion yuan (US$2.3 billion) has been injected to clean up pollution in areas along the Huaihe River, he said.
"The so-called 60 billion yuan (US$7.2 billion) is unreal," he said.
Meanwhile, Zou pointed out that the Huaihe's water quality has improved over the past few years.
The total amount of pollutants discharged into the Huaihe River has decreased, according to research.
"The trend of rapidly discharged pollution in the area has been held back," he said.
According to the China News Service report, the rumor began after this year's flood season, when there was a large amount of waste water dumped along the river.
Some reports then concluded that there had been no achievement at all in curtailing pollution.
"During the initial period of the flood season, it is common for pollution accidents to occur," he said.
Meanwhile, research indicates that problems remain in the cleaning up of the river.
The pollution levels along some branches of the Huaihe River, for example, are still very serious, according to research.
"But without the last decade's efforts, the situation would possibly be much worse," Zou said.
(China Daily September 14, 2004)