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Absence of oversight resulted in pollution

By ZHENG XIN and LI YINGQING (China Daily)

09:14, April 11, 2013

Children on the bank of a polluted river in Dongchuan district in Kunming, Yunnan province, in March. GUO TIELIU / FOR China Daily

Expert urges authorities to boost their monitoring of enterprises

Recent water pollution scandals reflect poor supervision by local governments, an expert said in response to a case of river pollution in Yunnan province.

Zheng Xiaoyun, assistant director of the Yunnan Academy of Social Sciences and president of the International Water History Association, spoke of the "milk river" case, a reference to the Xiaojiang River in the Dongchuan district of Kunming, the Yunnan provincial capital.

The river looks as if it has been tainted with milk due to the discharge of tailwater by mining companies.

"The 'milk river' scandal is only one case, but the continual exposure of water pollution in China reveals poor governmental supervision," Zheng said.

Wang Jieyun, director of the district's environmental protection bureau, told China Daily on Wednesday that the direct discharge had contributed to water pollution in the river, after earlier denying that no wastewater was being discharged into the river.

The Dongchuan environmental protection bureau said five enterprises discharged waste into the river through concealed drainage tubes.

Lu Rongxiang, a villager in the district who has been growing watermelons for more than 20 years, said the river water started becoming muddy and turbid about 10 years ago.

"We have to filter the water before using it to irrigate the watermelon field," he said. "And if your feet are splashed with the river water, they get itchy."

The district environmental protection bureau said it has dismantled the hidden discharge pipes and fined the companies.

The district is conducting all-weather supervision of the enterprises involved in the case, Wang said.

There are 45 mineral processing enterprises scattered along the river but only 11 are operating, with 28 shut down and six suspended from business, he said.

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