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Prevention and Control of Water Pollution in Xiangjiang River to Make it an Oriental Rhine

Writer: Time:2010-03-04

On July 30, 2010, a mother and her son from the United States were taking a stroll in the Orange Isle Park. Despite the extreme hot weather in Changsha, the mother and her son were relaxing in the park's emerald green trees and cool breeze, particularly intrigued by the stele inscribed with the Xiangjiang Declaration. The Declaration, numbering 396 words, starts with "though different countries we come from, we are all concerned about the earth - our shared homeland, and thus gather at the bank of the Xiangjiang River."

The gathering at the bank of the Xiangjiang River refers to the International Cooperation Forum on Resources and Environment (also named the Xiangjiang River Forum) held in Changsha in April 2009, which was co-sponsored by the Hunan Provincial People's Government, the Ministry of Environmental Protection of the People's Republic of China and the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP). Mr. Achim Steiner, UN under-secretary general and UNEP executive director sent a congratulatory message to the forum. More than 300 distinguished guests attended the forum, including Maurice F. Strong, secretary-general of the 1972 Stockholm Conference on Human Environment and predecessor of Achim Steiner, Qu Geping, a pioneer of China's environmental protection and Zhou Shengxian, minister of Environmental Protection of the P.R.C.

That day, Zhou Qiang was quite busy as a host. He presided over the opening ceremony of the forum, extending a warm welcome to the distinguished guests from all walks of life and attentively listening to their insightful views towards Hunan's construction of a 'Two-oriented' society featured by resource conservation and environment-friendliness. At the opening ceremony, Zhou co-launched the 'Sundial of the World', a symbol of the forum, with representatives from government, industry and the general public. The sundial, an ancient device to measure time, embodies Zhou's eagerness to undertake the cause of environmental protection given that time and tide wait for no man in environmental protection. It also expresses the goodwill of 69 million people in Hunan to make concerted efforts in protecting the environment with the people of the world at large. Moreover, he unveiled the stele inscribed with the Xiangjiang Declaration together with other guests. Being the province's governor then, he categorically promised to the world through the words inscribed on the stele, he would lead the government to earnestly shoulder historic responsibilities, make strenuous efforts to achieve scientific administration in accordance with the law, strengthen administration and education, and increase public investment in environmental protection. Zhou Qiang and Zhou Shengxian, on behalf of the Hunan Provincial People's Government and the Ministry of Environmental Protection of the P.R.C. respectively, signed the Cooperative Agreement on the Construction of 'Two-oriented' Society in Changsha-Zhuzhou-Xiangtan city cluster.

Through such endeavors, Zhou tried to ensure the comprehensive wastewater treatment in the Xiangjiang River basin incorporated in the national program of water treatment on major river basins throughout China, thereby winning more funds for pollution prevention and control of the Xiangjiang River. Thanks to Zhou's considerate organization, two sub-sessions of the forum, namely the Sub-session of Environmentally friendly Technology & Industry and the Sub-session of Energy Saving, Pollution Reduction and Corporate Responsibility have been a huge success at the same time.

The Xiangjiang River Forum was held successfully in Hunan with many renowned leaders and environmentalists present, which was a clear indication of Zhou's devotion to environmental protection and his dedication to protect the Xiangjiang River. He has put the concept of environmental protection embodied in the Xiangjiang Declaration into practice after beginning his tenure in Hunan.

As head of the committee for Energy Conservation and Emission Reduction of Hunan province, Zhou shoulders historical responsibilities. He vows on many occasions that if the target of energy conservation and emission reduction set by the 'Eleventh Five-Year Plan' can not be achieved, he will take whole responsibility of the failure on himself and make a self-critical report to the Premier of the State Council and the people of the whole province.

Zhou's vision is to make policies and devise strategies that are based on modern technologies and recent researches. Thoroughly implementing the concept of scientific development and considering the ground-realities of Hunan province, he has put forward the province's development strategy that relies on new-type industrialization, new-type urbanization, agricultural modernization and the state-of-the-art IT infrastructure, the province will strive to realize an optimized, innovative, green, and people-oriented development, and take the lead in the construction of resource conserving and environmentally-friendly society. The construction of 'Two-oriented' Society in Changsha-Zhuzhou-Xiangtan City Cluster as a comprehensive supporting reform pilot
area has made breakthroughs and is progressing at a consistent pace.

He has increased investments in environmental protection. A total of 14.005 billion yuan was poured into environmental protection from 2007 to 2009, with an average annual growth rate of 54.27%. The investment included 1.97 billion yuan of the provincial fiscal expenditures and 10.4 billion yuan from bank financing was utilized for the implementation of the Three-Year Action Plan on the Construction of Urban Sewage Treatment Facilities. In addition, 17.4 billion yuan was planned to inject into the operation of the Three-Year Action Plan on Water Pollution Prevention and Control of the Xiangjiang River Basin and 1.381 billion yuan of the provincial fiscal expenditures was invested in energy convention and emission reduction.

In his speech delivered at the 'Xiangjiang River Forum', Zhou vowed to build the river into an Oriental Rhine.

Zhou shows special emotion for water. He won the United Nation's 'Champions of the Earth' award in 2005. He said in his acceptance speech, "I grew up along the banks of China's longest river-the Yangtze. It was from there that I embarked on my journey of life. Therefore, I cherish a boundless love for the Yangtze, and always harbor in the bosom of my heart an intimate sonly sentiment towards the mountains and rivers of my motherland."

The above statement was again demonstrated in Zhou's endeavors to protect the Xiangjiang River with sonly reward. Originating from Guangxi Province, the river is 860 km long with 670 km in Hunan. It, the mother river called by Hunan people, runs through Hunan's eight cities and serves as drinking water source for 20 million residents within the basin.

Zhou presided over the Working Conference on Comprehensive Treatment of the Xiangjiang River Basin on June 2, 2008, launching the Three-Year Action Plan on Water Pollution Prevention and Control of the Xiangjiang River Basin. At the meeting, he compared the clear water in Yongzhou section of the upper reaches of the Xiangjiang River to Oriental Rhine in the prophase of industrialization. It was the first time for Hunanese to hear the comparison made by Zhou, governor of Hunan Province at that time.

At the Press Conference on the 'Construction of Resource-Conserving and Environmentally-Friendly Society' held in Beijing on August 5, 2008, Zhou declared earnestly that the building of Oriental Rhine shall lay emphasis on the treatment of the Xiangjiang River. As much decisive Zhou's tone is, the dream of Oriental Rhine for Hunan people is still beyond imagination but these were brave words from a seasoned statesman.

Zhou reiterated the building of the Xiangjiang River into China's Rhine during interview in a show named Visiting China Radio on March 11, 2010 during the period of China's NPC and CPPCC sessions. Hunanese no longer doubted Zhou's determination to realize the dream.

Zhou led a delegation of senior Hunan officials to visit a monitoring station for water quality in Germany's Ruhr, situated on the bank of Rhine in Sept.2010. Via this inspection, they had a thorough understanding of the methods of testing pollutants, microbes, and heavy metals, and the approaches of releasing information on monitoring index. Zhou urged the delegation members to draw experience from the treatment and management of Rhine to strengthen protection, treatment and management of the Xiangjiang River, and thereby create the river into a picturesque and prosperous one, along which residents live a stable life and enjoy their work.

For less than three years, a total of 1,148 projects for environmental pollution control along the Xiangjiang River basin have been accomplished, with 567 factories closed down, withdraw or made to cease production. 511 projects have been requested to harness pollution within the specified time, and six enterprises have been moved to other places for treatment. Sixty-four sewage treatment plants have been established, with the domestic sewage treatment capacity increasing by 2.55 million tons per day. Zhou is not alone, and the building of Oriental Rhine has
become a common pursuit and action of residents along the river.