Political advisers call for rural pollution control
Updated: 2013-03-14 06:55
By Wu Wencong and Gao Qihui (China Daily)
Top political advisers and government officials are calling for more attention to be paid to environmental pollution in rural areas.
The calls, at the annual two sessions, come as huge amounts of pollutants are being transferred from urban to rural areas, affecting increasing numbers of people.
Li Ganjie, vice-minister of environmental protection, said the amount of pollutants discharged into rivers in rural areas has accounted for half the total.
It contributes to 43 percent of the chemical oxygen demand, an index that mainly shows organic pollution in water, Li said.
The problem of solid waste is more severe in rural areas, as disclosed by some members of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference.
Zhu Yongxin, a member of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference National Committee and vice-chairman of the Central Committee of the China Association for Promoting Democracy, said: "The amount of solid waste generated in rural areas is 190 million metric tons per day, higher than the urban figure of 170 million tons, and a large amount of the urban garbage is being transferred to the countryside.
"The solid waste is piled up in villages, polluting the air, surface, and ground water, and threatening the well-being of about 900 million people in the countryside."
Liu Xiaozhuang, vice-chairman of the Jiangxi Provincial Committee of the CPPCC and a member of the Standing Committee of the Central Committee of the China Democratic League, said the water index in rural areas is deteriorating in all aspects, with quantity shrinking, quality worsening and sources lacking.
"The problem has resulted in many endemic diseases breaking out in rural villages," said Liu. "Such a threat will be brought to cities, as the rivers flow into cities."
A map highlighting more than 200 so-called cancer villages - those with an unusually high incidence of cancers possibly caused by pollution - appeared on the Internet in February.
Although more research is needed on the link between pollution and cancer, medical experts have confirmed that these villages all suffer from different levels of pollution, especially water pollution.
Pan Biling, deputy head of the environmental protection department of Hunan province and vice-chairman of the Hunan Provincial Committee of the China Association for Promoting Democracy, said if the rural environment can't be addressed properly, the urban environment will also be hard to improve.
"For example, if the soil in rural areas is polluted, the vegetables or crops planted there will be affected. Then, after they are sold to cities, they will also affect the health of urban residents," he said.
Vice-Minister Li said government investment in pollution control didn't cover rural areas in the 11th Five-Year Plan (2006-10). But the importance of this issue has become apparent during this time.
Since 2008, the environmental protection and agriculture ministries have invested 13.5 billion yuan ($2.17 billion) in improving the environment in 26,000 villages across China, accounting for 4.35 percent of all villages. This coverage will be expanded to 10 percent by the end of 2015 as planned.
But Pan said this is still far from enough.
Wang Yi, a deputy to the National People's Congress and deputy head of the Institute of Policy and Management of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, said a key method to increase investment in environmental protection is to bring in non-governmental investors, emphasize the polluting companies' responsibilities, and issue favorable policies to encourage investment from green industries.
But several CPPCC members have stressed the importance of increasing State investment on this issue.
According to Pan, experience in developed countries shows that environmental quality won't be improved considerably until relevant investment from all sources reaches 3 percent of a country's GDP.
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