Jiangsu Province will constantly focus on environmental protection while maintaining strong momentum in economic development in the next five years, acting governor Luo Zhijun said in his work report to the first session of the 11th provincial people's congress last Friday.
The province witnessed fast economic growth in the past five years with gross domestic product (GDP) increasing at an annual average rate of 14.5 percent, one of the highest rates in the country, official figures showed.
However, such economic development has had a negative impact on the environment, Luo said.
Last May, more than one million residents in the city of Wuxi suffered water shortages when a large-scale, blue-green algae outbreak hit Lake Taihu, one of the city's main sources of drinking water.
The algae comprise microscopic organisms that are naturally present in waters. They grow easily in polluted waters and can starve the water of oxygen, killing aquatic life.
The water quality of the lake has improved, but the incident was seen to have sent a signal to local government that the economy should not grow at the expense of the environment.
"We've learned a lesson from the incident, that environmental protection should take precedence over GDP growth," said Mao Xiaoping, mayor of Wuxi and deputy to the provincial congress.
The provincial government will allocate more than 2 billion yuan (US$277 million) to clean up Taihu lake this year, Luo said in his report.
Over the past five years, the provincial government has made strenuous efforts to protect the environment while speeding up economic development, Luo said
All over the province, 2,713 small chemical factories, one of the main sources of pollution, have been ordered to close, while many other heavy polluting enterprises have been urged to upgrade their environmental protection facilities to be up to standards, Luo said.
Similarly, 75 sewage treatment plants have been built in the cities with a daily disposal capacity of 3.78 million tons of wastewater, he said.
"We will continue to encourage technology renovation and push forward industrial restructuring in the next five years," said Luo.
The authorities will also support research of technologies to improve water and air quality, Luo said.
At the same time, the province will promote the use of energy-saving devices and recycling, he said.
Measures are being taken to ensure that no new projects will be approved before they meet all requirements for environmental protection, Luo added.
To that effect, the metallurgy, chemical, building materials, electrical power and textile industries will all be under close supervision, he said.
(China Daily January 28, 2008)