China Environmental News Digest

Daily updated Environmental news related to China

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Plan unveiled to check worsening pollution

Feb. 14 (Xinhuanet) -- The Chinese government has unveiled a plan to combat environmental degradation in the country for the next 15 years, with pollution control high on the agenda.

move is aimed at protecting the long-term interests of the Chinese nation and leaving a good living and development space for the offspring," said the State Council in its decision on implementing the scientific concept of development and stepping up environmental protection.

target stipulates that by 2010, the environmental quality of the heavily-polluted regions and cities in the country should be improved and the trend of environmental degradation checked.

up to 2020, the environmental quality and ecological status in the country should be improved remarkably.

realize the goal, the Chinese government has outlined seven major tasks for environmental protection, with five focusing on pollution control including on water, air and soil.

decision was issued in the wake of the major Songhua River pollution in northeast China in November last year, an event that stunned the nation and sounded an alarm about the country's worsening environment.

statistics indicate that most of the major rivers in the country are polluted and over one-third of China's land territory has been ravaged by acid rain. Most city residents breath dirty air, and more than 300 million rural residents lack access to clean water.

Chinese government acknowledged in the document that despite its efforts in checking pollution in the past years, the environmental situation in the country is "still very severe".

cites as major problems the worsening of acid rain, the expansion of polluted soil, the emerging harm of persistent organic pollutants, the potential risks in its nuclear facilities and the decline of biodiverity.

the next 15 years, the fight against pollution will become even more arduous, as the nation's economy is expected to quadruple during the period, it says.

worst environmental pollution in the country is coming, highlighted by frequent occurrence of major pollution incidents," said Zhou Shengxian, director of the State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA).

issue of pollution has become an 'blasting fuse' of social instability," he told Xinhua, citing the surging of mass unrest in the country resulting from pollution.

China is also facing a golden opportunity to tackle its environmental issues, he said.

central government has paid unprecedented high attention to the issue, which provides strong political support to pollution control efforts," he said.

the document urged the establishment of a long-term mechanism on environmental protection, including drafting laws on soil and chemical pollution as well as on compensation for environmental damage.

also demands strict enforcement of environment-related laws and severely punishing those responsible for pollution, including governmental officials.

document asks governmental departments and localities to formulate economic policies beneficial to environmental protection in the sector of price, tax collection, credit, trade, land and government purchase.

most urgent task for us is to check water pollution to ensure the safety of drinking water, and we must win the battle," Zhou said

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