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People's Daily Online>>China Features

Grassroots movements influence authorities

(Xinhua)

18:36, December 16, 2011

CHANGSHA, Dec. 16 (Xinhua) -- Zhou Bide, a 65-year-old retired engineer, saw a new way to tackle pressing environmental issues when the local government pledged to clean a polluted lake in response to online appeals.

In an online forum at Rednet.cn, a local news website in central Hunan province, environmental activists like Zhou have been exposing "environmentally unfriendly" events in the province's Xiangtan city throughout 2011.

In this manner, the activists hope to push the local government to curb severe pollution, and Yijia Lake was the target of their latest online campaign.

With an area of around seven hectares (100 mu), Yijia Lake was clean before 2007. But it has become one of the most polluted areas in Xiangtan against the backdrop of rapid urbanization.

"Garbage blankets the stinking water as raw sewage runs into the lake directly," Zhou said.

"We've lived in Xiangtan for generations. How can we witness the downgrading of our hometown day by day without doing something?" Zhou said.

To save the lake, the activists launched an online campaign in mid November to raise awareness in the city. Over 56 posts called for local authorities to take immediate action.

The burgeoning online discussion and ensuing public pressure prompted quick government action. In late November, deputy mayor Yang Qinpeng toured the lake along with environmental protection bureau officials.

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