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Ministry: Battle against pollution 'paying off'
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The country's battle to curb pollution is paying off, the Ministry of Environmental Protection said Wednesday.

It said in the first half, there was further reduction in the discharge of major pollutants.

The odd-even license plate rule brought in to keep cars off the streets of Beijing during the Olympic Games has greatly improved the air quality of the city.

The odd-even license plate rule brought in to keep cars off the streets of Beijing during the Olympic Games has greatly improved the air quality of the city.

Emissions of sulfur dioxide (SO2), which belches from smokestacks and causes acid rain, fell by 3.96 percent compared to the same period last year, while the chemical oxygen demand (COD), a measure of water pollution, dropped by 2.48 percent.

Zhou Shengxian, minister of environmental protection, said at a river pollution treatment conference in Jining, Shandong province, that this shows that the combined efforts of the administration and the public are paying off.

The 11th Five-Year Plan (2006-10) seeks a cut in air and water pollution by 10 percent for the period, or about 2 percent annually.

Results in 2006, however, were far from optimistic, with emissions of SO2 and COD increasing by 1.8 percent and 1.2 percent respectively. Last year SO2 fell 4.7 percent and COD, 3.2 percent.

But the overall results for the two years was still short of expectations: the two indexes dropped only 2.14 and 3.16 percent respectively on the 2005 level, less than the expected 4 percent.

"In this sense, the 3.96 percent drop in SO2 emissions in the first half of 2008 is an encouraging result for the country to catch up and finally meet its green targets, Li Xinmin, deputy director of the pollution control department told China Daily.

"Installation of sulphur scrubbers at coal-fired power plants, as well as closure of backward production facilities in energy intensive industries, such as electricity, steel, cement and papermaking, have contributed to the reduction of emissions," Li said.

The country will also continue to boost its efforts to clean its sources of water, Zhou said.

Last year, the State Council approved plans to clean up the country's most polluted rivers and lakes, such as the Huaihe and Haihe rivers, and the Chaohu Lake and Taihu Lake basins.

Also last year, 50 percent of water from seven major rivers was up to the required standard, up 7 percent from the previous year.

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