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People's Daily Online>>China Society

River protection rules cut into incomes

By Wang Xiaodong and Huo Yan (China Daily)

09:09, January 19, 2012

Rafts scattered at a harbor in Xingping township, the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, January, 2012. (China Daily Photo)

NANNING - The government is pledging to compensate residents along one of China's most scenic rivers whose livelihoods have been affected by new rules to protect the waterway.

The regulations, which took effect on Jan 1, were adopted to protect the 437-kilometer Lijiang River in South China's Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region. The rules, which ban fishing, private rafting and restaurants along key-sections of the river, are expected to set an example of protecting over-exploited tourism resources in China.

"The regulations will definitely affect the livelihoods of residents along the Lijiang River," said Liu Jun, Party chief of Guilin city, the site of one of the most beautiful parts of the river.

"However, we will soon establish a compensation plan for the residents who have to sacrifice their interests to protect the river. The government will also encourage the residents to develop industries that are friendly to environment," he said.

According to a report by the autonomous region's Legislative Affairs Office last year, violations of environmental laws - such as wastewater pollution, sand quarrying and illegal logging - were rampant along some sections of the river, prompting the region's government to draw up the regulations.

The Lijiang River is a tourist magnet. In 2011, Guilin alone was visited by 30 million tourists, 1.5 million of whom came from overseas, according to the city tourism bureau. Revenue from tourism totaled 20 billion yuan ($3.2 billion) last year.

But residents said the new rules are reducing their incomes.

In Xingping township, Guilin, a woman surnamed Liao said she used to be able to earn 300 yuan a day carrying tourists on her raft. There were more than 600 rafts owned by villagers on the river each day during peak season.

The new rules require villagers to sign contracts with licensed companies to offer rafting services. Under the contracts, they must raise the price of the service.

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