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Green plan 'requires new focus'
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More measures are needed to protect the ecology of Shanghai's rural and suburban areas during the current period of industrial restructuring, a top environment official said yesterday.

Zhang Quan, director of the Shanghai environmental protection bureau, said at a press briefing, that now is the time to shift the focus from urban areas and tackle environmental problems in the suburbs and the countryside, as more and more factories move their production bases there.

The restructuring is also putting a strain on the rural infrastructure, he added.

The measures might include the increased use of organic pesticides, limiting the use of chemical fertilizers, and accelerating the development of the areas' infrastructure, including their sewerage systems, Zhang said.

"There are more than 2 million people living in rural villages in Shanghai, where it is very difficult to promote environmental protection measures," he said.

"But the city has the funds and all other necessary resources to tackle the problem."

Despite its rapid population and economic growth, Shanghai's environment has been improving steadily in recent years, the bureau said yesterday in a statement.

Last year, almost 90 percent of days were reported as having "good" air quality, the highest number since monitoring began more than 10 years ago, it said.

Green coverage has risen to 38 percent, and as of last year, the amount of green space per capita was up to 12.5 sq m, the bureau said.

The city government also remains committed to reducing levels of sulfur dioxide in the air and pollution in the city's waterways, the statement said.

In 2000, the Shanghai government launched a campaign to improve its environment in a bid to ensure a green Expo in 2010.

Since then, it has spent almost 180 billion yuan (US$26 billion) on green projects, Zhang said.

Also speaking at yesterday's press briefing, Huang Yun, head of the bureau's policy division, said over the past two years, more than 1,200 companies have been punished for violations of environmental regulations.

They were each fined up to 200,000 yuan.

Zhang said the development of a "recycling economy" is key to the city achieving its environmental goals.

"In order to achieve this, we need to involve people from all areas of society. And we must raise the public's awareness of the need for environmental protection," Zhang said.

(China Daily June 4, 2008)

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