China's environment authorities are to track businesses pumping waste into the industry-heavy Yangtze River, the country's longest, and punish those discharging illegally.
Zhang Lijun, Vice Minister of Environmental Protection, said Monday at a video conference that the ministry would inspect businesses in about 10 provinces and municipalities along the mainstream and branches of the river, starting this month.
"The main task is to figure out the number of waste channels and the main wastes dumped into the river," said Zhang.
The ministry would "severely punish" businesses found to be discharging waste without approval or discharging over the limited amount, he said.
A monthly report on China's surface water quality showed the Yangtze River was slightly polluted in December 2008 and its branches suffered medium-level pollution.
The ultimate goal was to cut waste discharges and improve water quality of the river, Zhang said.
The Yangtze River is about 6,300 km long. Cities along the river are densely populated with concentrations of heavily polluting industries such as textiles and printing.