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Thursday, July 07, 2005

Environment - Pollution

I have been reading a report about the pollution levels in the Liao Ning province, North East China - their heavy industry belt. The figures are staggering.

In 2001, the gross provincial industrial exhaust amount was 1045.2 billion cubic metres. Each day, thousands of tons of sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, particles from industry, smoke and dust are emitted in the air.

Liao Ning is also seriously lacking in water resources. The average water reserve is 877 cubic metre per capita, only 42% of the national average, and only 9.9% of the world's average. Makes me feel how lucky Singaporeans are to have enough water for domestic, industrial and even recreational use. I mean, just look at the number of swimming pools in Singapore next time you are traveling by air from a plane. Well, that is also thanks to the Malaysian Government for continuing the water supply. That is no wonder that Singapore is now into reclaiming water from waste wate calling it Newater.

Perhaps implementing some of these water reclaiming systems will be useful in a place like Liao Ning. It will clean the surface water and ground water at the same time providing sufficient water to the residents and industry. Obviously, the issue here is cost. Given China's accent in the economic barometer, it is time money is set aside to protect its environment before it come to such a dire state that business cannot continue. The industries and residents need to pay for their sanitation services and water supply closer to market prices in order to help solve the problems.

The demand for water is so great that it is straining the water sources. For instance, river waters do get salinated if too much fresh water is drawn for their industry. We have one customer that require 6,000,000 litres of water for their dye processing. Just to give you an idea, a person in a developed country uses 132 litres a day. Then we have pollutants indiscrimately discharged into their rivers.

I trust that it is not easy being in the government in China. For every one problem we need to solve here in Singapore, they probably have one hundred. That is probably because of one hundred years of mismanagement turning the Great Chinese culture on its head. However amid all these tribulations I believe the Chinese will truimph as it will build strong characters amongst its leaders and citizens. That probably explains why we keep getting our Singapore sportsmen and scholars from China.

A hundred years of mismanagement and neglect has brought them to where they are today, but I trust they will sort their problems, particularly environmental problems out in due course.

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