From: Reuters
Published July 10, 2007 12:00 AM

China Province Vows Water Clean-Up Even if Economy Hurts

BEIJING -- The top official of an eastern Chinese province said he would be willing to sacrifice 15 percent of its booming economic activity to clean a lake beset by pollution-fed algae, state media reported on Monday.

Jiangsu Communist Party secretary Li Yuanchao "vowed to introduce strict no-compromise measures to curb water pollution at Taihu Lake, even if doing so slows economic growth," the China Daily reported.

Li demanded "the measures must be strictly implemented even if they caused a 15 percent downturn in the province's gross domestic product", the paper said.

In late May, many residents of Wuxi, a thriving Jiangsu industrial centre with an urban population of some 2.3 million, had tap water cut off after the lake was blanketed in putrid blue-green algae feeding on run-off from farms, homes and factories.

For years, officials have been vowing to clean up Taihu Lake with little to show for their promises. But Premier Wen Jiabao and other central leaders have said the country must tame its frantic growth to avoid environmental havoc.

Li, who has been widely mentioned as a future central leader, said cutting the lake pollution was now an "urgent" priority. Heavily polluting industries and farming activities would be curtailed, he said in a speech on Saturday, according to the People's Daily.

The lake is surrounded by textile, chemical, paper-making and other industries that pump out ammonia and nitrogen, filling the lake with nutrients that can ignite algae outbreaks.

"This is the debt we must pay to nature to avoid even worse losses to future generations," Li said of the curbs.

Last week, water supplies to 200,000 residents in Shuyang County, also in Jiangsu, were halted after ammonia and azote leaked from a chemical plant into a nearby river.

Source: Reuters

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