$41b earmarked for Pearl basin cleanup

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 08 October, 2002, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 08 October, 2002, 12:00am

Guangdong authorities plan to spend 44.5 billion yuan (HK$41.7 billion) during the next eight years to clean up the polluted Pearl River.

Xinhua said yesterday the provincial government had endorsed an anti-pollution package proposed by the Guangdong Environmental Protection Bureau.

The plan includes a two-stage operation in which water quality will be improved by 2005 and the threat of water pollution 'fundamentally solved' by 2010, the report cited the document as saying.

As part of the package, 175 firms in Guangdong considered serious threats to the Pearl River's water quality will be ordered to meet the new requirements. Details of the regulations are not yet known. The report did not say what the deadline for compliance was or what the penalty would be for firms failing to meet the standards.

The package is also expected to include 161 waste-water processing plants.

As part of the programme, Guangzhou will spend 4.7 billion yuan by the end of next year. The sum includes a 3.2 billion yuan waste-water processing plant and a 1.5 billion yuan scheme for cleaning up some of the Pearl River tributaries.

Despite the financial outlay, the document said the efforts would only result in 80 per cent of the water meeting the required standard by 2010.

The programme will see 90 per cent of the industrial waste water disposal systems in the area upgraded to meet environmental protection standards.

Following the project, 60 per cent of the sewage from urban areas in Guangdong will be processed before being discharged in to the Pearl River.

Water pollution has damaged the Guangdong area. Much of the population relies on the river for drinking water.

The problem has also sparked concerns in Hong Kong, since Guangdong authorities supply the SAR with water from Dongjiang River, one of the Pearl River's three principal tributaries.

Hong Kong imported 729 million cubic metres of water from the Dongjiang River last year at a cost of $2.2 billion.