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China, EU Join Efforts to Make Major Rivers Cleaner

China and the European Union (EU) launched a joint campaign on Tuesday to purify the country's largest river basins -- the Yellow and Yangtze rivers.

The 5-year program, involving 25 million euros in grants from EU, more than 80 million euros in loans from the World Bank, and over 70 million euros from China, will work out a comprehensive plan and policies on pollution control along the Yellow River, and promote the public awareness of reducing industrial pollution and waste discharge and saving irrigation along the middle reaches of the river, particularly the Henan, Shanxi and Shaanxi provinces.

The 175-million-euro fund will also be used to finance people living in Yunnan, Guizhou, Hubei provinces and Chongqing municipality to plant economic and ecological forests in an effort to improve ecological reservation along the upper and middle reaches of the Yangtze River.

The program will also bring advanced experiences from Europe in administrating rivers that is expected to upgrade China's river control mechanisms.

Initiated at the China-EU summit held in Beijing in 2005, the program will be jointly carried out by the Ministry of Water Resources, the State Administration for Environmental Protection (SAEP), the water resources committees of the two rivers and the EU.

The program was launched after China's environmental watchdog began to tighten control over serious polluting areas of four major rivers, also including the Huaihe and Haihe rivers.

Under the order of SAEP, local authorities in six cities, two counties and five industrial zones -- all in the vicinity of the four rivers, must fix their "environmental problems" in three months as a nationwide monitoring results showed that water running through these regions was "heavily polluted" during the first four months of this year.

(Xinhua News Agency October 17, 2007)

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