Drive to close illegal golf courses flops
Mainland golfers are teeing off happily despite the central government's attempts to crack down on the operation of illegal golf courses.
Mainland media reports said that a State Council decision on July 20 to investigate and control non-approved golf courses appeared to have failed, and most continued operating as usual, causing harm to local people and polluting the environment.
In Dalian, an industrial and port city in the northeast, several golf courses were using domestic water supplies for irrigation and were discharging their waste water, mixed with pesticides, into the local reservoir, CCTV reported yesterday. Sometimes, so much water was used that nearby residents found their taps ran dry, the broadcaster reported earlier.
Commenting on the CCTV report, the official Guangming Daily yesterday called golf course construction a national disaster.
According to China National Radio, in drought-prone Hebei province some 100 golf courses were equipped with two sets of pumps - open pumps and secret pumps, which were used to exploit and steal underground water.
Any pump used for obtaining underground water needs to be approved by the irrigation authorities.
A provincial water resources official told China National Radio the golf courses drilled deep wells to get good quality water, but never paid for what they used. Lang Honggang said so much damage had been done to the underground water system, 'it would take at least 10,000 years for it to recover'.
All the Hebei golf courses were built close to Beijing and Tianjin, to cater for the nouveau riche from the two large cities. Golf club memberships can easily cost more than 500,000 yuan (HK$604,000).
In Beijing, which depends on water sources from as far away as the Yangtze River, there are more than 70 golf courses using about 280,000 tonnes of water every day, according to Peng Zhenhuai, public administration professor and head of the Peking University institute of local governments.
Along the Yongding River running through the city's western suburbs, there is a so-called 'golf corridor' consisting of nine courses, according to environmental activist Zhang Junfeng . Another golf course in Beijing's Haidian District was converted from a public park.
None of those golf courses closed following the government's announcement of the crackdown.
There were some 600 golf courses throughout the mainland, using about 5.6 billion tonnes of clean water a year, while discharging an equally enormous amount of chemicals, Peng said.
He told the news magazine Outlook that he was concerned what effect the current efforts to clamp down on illegal golf courses would have and how many courses would be closed.
Of all the golf courses on the mainland, only 10 have full approval from the government, and 430 were built after its first attempt to tighten approval procedures in 2004.