A province-wide campaign to study soil erosion in Guangdong is under way, with an eye toward one
day reversing the environmental degradation that has taken place in
this prosperous province.
Guangdong's rapid economic development has come at great cost to
the environment, sources with the provincial bureau of water
"Guangdong is not only one of the country's economic
powerhouses, but also a leader in soil erosion," Nanfang
Daily reported Monday.
The province ranks second in soil erosion on the mainland, the
Sources with the water conservancy bureau said more than 2,200
square kilometers of soil had eroded during the 10th Five-Year Plan
period (2001-05), and water conservation experts have warned the
situation could be worse during the 11th Five-Year Plan period (2006-10).
Experts have said erosion could spread to 5,748 square
kilometers of land, about 3.2 percent of the province's farmland,
Their warning comes as the province is busy building new
highways, ports, railways, oil and gas pipelines, power stations,
steelworks, automobile plants and other industrial projects that
will inevitably take their toll on the environment.
The Guangdong provincial government plans to invest more than
1.24 billion yuan (US$165 billion) in infrastructure and energy
projects during the 2006-10 period.
To prevent further erosion, industrial projects that could
damage the environment will not be allowed to proceed.
And the provincial government will not only increase fines for
those who cause soil erosion, but also reward people who report
situations that could lead to the destruction of the province's
Illegal sand digging
In a related development, the water conservancy department and
police have promised to work together to combat unauthorized sand
digging in the Pearl River.
A special task force is to be set up to crack down on illegal
digging in major rivers in the province, which borders the Hong
Kong and Macao special administrative regions.
Lu Yingming, deputy director of the Guangdong provincial
department of water conservancy, said unauthorized sand digging had
destroyed or damaged many dikes and other water conservancy
facilities in the province's Xijiang, Dongjiang and Beijiang rivers
in recent years, threatening people's lives and property.
The Xijiang, Dongjiang and Beijiang are major tributaries of the
Pearl River, the third longest river in the country.
Many riverbeds and riparian transportation routes have been
damaged because of illegal sand digging, which has also caused
geological disasters and salt tides in recent years.
Lu said illegal diggers can earn a lot of money by selling off
the sand they steal.
Guangdong's construction industry uses more than 100 million
cubic meters a year, while Japan, Hong Kong and Taiwan buy another
10 million cubic meters.
November 20, 2007)