Xion­gan New Area ecol­ogy a pri­or­ity

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - CHINA - By ZHANG YU in Shi­ji­azhuang zhangyu1@ chi­nadaily.com.cn

The Min­istry of En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion and the He­bei pro­vin­cial govern­ment signed a co­op­er­a­tion agree­ment on Mon­day, as China’s top en­vi­ron­men­tal watch­dog vowed to sup­port en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion work in He­bei’s Xion­gan New Area.

“The min­istry has made the area’s eco­log­i­cal en­vi­ron­ment re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion and pro­tec­tion a pri­or­ity,” said Li Gan­jie, min­is­ter of en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion, dur­ing a sign­ing cer­e­mony for the agree­ment in Shi­ji­azhuang.

Li said the min­istry has set up a spe­cial work­ing group to push for­ward en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion in Xion­gan, and as­sess­ment of the area’s cur­rent sit­u­a­tion has been com­pleted.

The min­istry has also drawn eco­log­i­cal “red lines” — lim­its that can­not be crossed — to pro­tect and re­store the area’s en­vi­ron­ment.

Un­der the agree­ment, the min­istry will join hands with He­bei to re­duce pol­lu­tion in the Xion­gan area’s fresh­wa­ter Baiyang­dian Lake, to es­tab­lish a mon­i­tor­ing and su­per­vi­sion sys­tem and to pro­mote the de­vel­op­ment of green in­dus­tries.

In April, the cen­tral govern­ment an­nounced plans for the new area, which will help the co­or­di­nated de­vel­op­ment of the Bei­jing-Tianjin-He­bei re­gion. About 100 kilo­me­ters south­west of Bei­jing, the new area in­cludes Baod­ing’s Xiongx­ian, Rongcheng and Anxin coun­ties.

Ac­cord­ing to the plan for the area, de­vel­op­ment should al­ways put the en­vi­ron­ment first and fol­low green strate­gies.

When plans for the area were un­veiled, one goal was to cre­ate a “nat­u­rally scenic city with blue skies, fresh air and clean wa­ter”.

Baiyang­dian Lake, a ma­jor wet­land that cov­ers 366 square kilo­me­ters is be­lieved to be the key to im­prov­ing the area’s over­all en­vi­ron­ment.

At the same time, Baod­ing is one of 10 cities with the worst air qual­ity in the coun­try. Also, the city’s ecol­ogy has been dam­aged by years of pol­lu­tion from fish farm­ing and in­dus­trial dis­charges.

On Nov 8, an in­spec­tion team from the He­bei En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Bureau dis­closed that there are piles of waste along the banks of the lake’s feeder rivers, and that the rivers are filled with sed­i­ment and lined with il­le­gal sewage dis­charge out­lets, which pol­lute the lake.

Wang Dongfeng, Party chief of He­bei, said the prov­ince will ad­here to green de­vel­op­ment and strive to solve such prob­lems with the help of the min­istry.

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