New offer made to another official to swim in polluted river

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 20 February, 2013, 2:00pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 20 February, 2013, 3:08pm

Two days after a Zhejiang entrepreneur offered a 200,000 yuan reward to an environmental official if he could swim in a polluted river, a similar offer was made in the same province, a local newspaper reported

This time the reward was 300,000 yuan (HK$370,000), and it was offered to another official if he swam in a  polluted river for 30 minutes, 10 minutes longer than the first offer.

“All waterways in Longgang town are filled with stinky, polluted water, critically threatening people’s health ... Based on this, I offer a reward of 300,000 yuan to Cangnan environmental protection bureau chief Su Zhongjie if he can swim for 30 minutes in the polluted river,” said the announcement, made on Monday on Longgang's internet forum.

The post, made by a "Wenzhou netizen", quickly drew attention after another user reposted it the next day on microblogging website Sina Weibo. 

The post included a photo of a small river filled with yellow and green foam.

Weibo user Lin Kaixiao commented under the post that the polluted river flows through the town centre, and the dark water smells horribly. 

Su, whose bureau oversees Longgang, said the water pollution in town came from residential waste. He pledged to fully clean all waterways in the Longgang area.

“We will have zero tolerance for water pollution,” Su told Modern Gold, an affiliated newspaper of Xinhua state news agency.

A resident who lives near the river said the waterway has been polluted for years.

“Those nearby have to live with the unbearable smell. We do not dare to open our windows in the summer,” said the resident who was identified only as Chen.

On Saturday, a businessman challenged a local environmental protection bureau chief in Ruian to swim in a polluted river for 20 minutes, for a reward of 200,000 yuan. The official responded by saying the polluted river was not his responsibility.

The reward offers appear to be a new kind of way to get attention to local pollution. Several Weibo users have called on people to post photos of polluted waterways in their communities.

Yang Jianhua, research centre director of Zhejjiang Academy of Social Sciences, said the offers highlighted public awareness about the environment and people's frustration with the worsening pollution. 

"Environmental protection divisions must not pass on responsiblities. They must have a sense of urgency and calling," Yang said.