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SEPA Director Urges Protection of Water Resources
The State Environmental Protection Administration will make a special check on whether the people are drinking clean water, said Xie Zhenhua, its director at a press conference on June 5, the 31st World Environmental Day, sponsored by the Press Office of the State Council.

He said the China is trying to divert the water in the Yangtze River in the south to the north with a view to tackling water shortage in the north. He noted that China is a country short of water resources, especially in its north. The problem of water shortage is worsened by water pollution, he said.

He said that 45 percent of urban sewage will be disposed of by 2005 and the figure has to reach 60 percent in cities with a population of 500,000 and more. To this end, China will invest 120 billion yuan (US$14.5 billion) to tackle water pollution and 150 billion yuan (US$18.1 billion) to resolve industrial and agricultural pollution.

Xie said that since the Three Gorges reservoir began to conserve water, the quality of water is generally steady. China will build more urban sewage and garbage disposal centers and control the pollution by the plying ships and in its major tributaries. In the meantime, efforts will be made to readjust the industrial structure, and cut the industrial pollution load.

Xie said that the outbreak of the SARS exposed China’s problems in basic environmental protection facilities, especially those related to public health. In the period of combat against the SARS, SEPA had issued a series of notices concerning control of hospital wastewater and medical waste, technical standards and methods of emergency. The government has appropriated special funds to finance the purchase of trucks to transport medical waste and hospital incinerators. No secondary pollution has occurred due to the mishandling of hospital wastewater and medical waste. China will make more investment in the basic facilities of environmental protection, he said.

Xie said that China’s economy grew very fast in the first half of this year and the environmental quality remains steady. It is a major question of importance for China to cut the total amount of pollutants discharged when the economy grows at a high rate. China will strengthen the construction of environmental infrastructure and take the road of clean production and cycle economy. Those firms that discharge pollutants illegally will be handled, he said.

Wang Jirong, the deputy SEPA director, said that the rainfalls in the Yellow River valley fell by 30 to 50 percent, as compared with the previous years since the beginning of this year and its ability to dilute pollutants has considerably dropped. The two incidents of oil pollution to the Yellow River in Lanzhou were caused because of poor management by relevant firms. The local government has taken effective measures and punished those who were held responsible. It will conduct a general check against any possible incident of the same nature in the future.

Xie also replied questions concerning the special campaign against violations of the environmental law, climatic warming and energy structure adjustment, green GDP, clean production, cycle economy and environmental protection in the rural combat against the SARS.

(www.cenews.com.cn June 9, 2003)

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