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15,000 enterprises punished over pollution in 2008
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About 15,000 enterprises were punished for pollution last year and nearly 100 people deemed responsible were disciplined, China's environmental regulator told a national environmental protection meeting held in Beijing on Tuesday.

Environmental Protection Minister Zhou Shengxian told the meeting that "China made great progress last year in pollution abatement."

According to Zhou, 156 projects totaling 473.7 billion yuan (about 69 billion U.S. dollars) were rejected last year because they were deemed to be energy-intensive or highly polluting.

Approved projects, numbering 579, will prevent the emission of 468,600 tons of sulfur dioxide and 38,400 tons of chemical oxygen, he said.

China increased urban sewage treatment capacity by 12.8 million tons daily and installed desulfurized coal-fired generating units with a combined capacity of 86 million kw.

As of September, more than 51 billion yuan had been invested in 881 projects to control pollution on eight major rivers, including the Huaihe, Haihe and Songhua rivers.

In rural areas, 500 million yuan was used for environmental protection programs covering more than 700 villages and up to 4 million people.

(Xinhua News Agency January 14, 2009)

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