China Environmental News Digest

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Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Heavy polluters move to inland

Shanghai Daily Home
WHILE China's booming coastal cities are stepping up efforts to protect the environment, its inland provinces are producing more and more industrial waste.

"Even though China's coastal provinces are still the major source of sewage, inland provinces have begun to top the list of industrial waste producers," said Ma Jun, director of the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs.

Ma said since governments of coastal cities have taken measures to reduce pollution, some industries that cause heavy pollution have moved to the less developed inland areas.

According to a database launched recently by Ma's institution, since 2004, south China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, southwest China's Sichuan Province and north China's Hebei Province have ranked as the worst in the nation in terms of the volume of organic waste in their waterways.

Another inland province Hunan ranks first in discharging poisonous pollutants such as lead, chrome, cadmium and other toxic by-products of industrial production, according to the database.

"I am really shocked at how seriously and rapidly the inland waters are being polluted," said Ma.

The database, named China Water Pollution Map (www.ipe.org.cn/water), provides information on water quality and the sources of water pollution discharge in 300 cities across China. It also lists more than 2,500 enterprises accused of causing water pollution.

Ma, who has been tracing China's water problems for years, said controlling the country's water pollution is not a technical problem and local governments can afford to control the pollution.

Ma criticized local officials for turning a blind eye to the environment in the pursuit of economic profit.

"Under protection of local authorities, some enterprises wantonly ignore their responsibilities and the cost of protecting the environment has been transferred from those enterprises to local people," he said.

The scholar also notes that many sewage treatment plants, built with heavy public financing are not in operation.

Ma said local governments don't want to spend money to run the sewage treatment plants. "Some environmental protection facilities have become image projects."

To solve the problem, Ma said public awareness of environmental protection needs to be improved.

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