Draft law to bring in sewage treatment for rural residents

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 03 June, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 03 June, 2007, 12:00am

The mainland plans to tackle poor wastewater treatment in its rural areas with regulations contained in a draft rural planning law, a government official said.

The law, under review by the National People's Congress Standing Committee, is the first in the country to address planning issues for the mainland's more than 3 million villages and countless counties, said Zhao Hui , deputy director-general of the Ministry of Construction's Department of Rural Construction.

Mr Zhao said the regulations were due to be released by the end of the year.

They would cover wastewater and rubbish management in the widespread absence of sewage treatment systems in the countryside, he said.

'We will provide standards for the handling of sewage and rubbish. Such standards are not available now, and different places are doing different experiments' on sewage treatment, he said.

Mr Zhao said more than half of the mainland's wastewater was produced in rural areas. The government adds that 96 per cent of the villages lack sewage treatment systems.

This lack of infrastructure is seen as one of the major reasons drinking water for more than 323 million rural residents, or 34 per cent of the rural population, is unsafe.

'A lot of water sources are located very close to toilets, and without a sewage system, water becomes contaminated with various kinds of bacteria, and this affects people's health,' Mr Zhao said.

Excessive use of fertilisers, which eventually entered village water sources, also contributed to the pollution, he said.

Mainland media have reported that the draft law will also address issues such as farmland acquisition and the construction of unnecessarily lavish office buildings.