China struggling to tackle rising pollution

China is finding it increasingly difficult to cope with rising pollution and its impact on the environment despite record investment in clean technology, state media have reported. “China is under increasing pressure to cope with environmental pollution,” Xinhua news agency quoted a report by the State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA) as saying on the nation·s environment in 2006.

Despite plans to cut pollutants by two percent last year, the report said China·s sulfur dioxide emissions grew to 25.9 million tonnes in 2006, up 1.5 percent from the previous year.

Waste water discharges were up by 2.3 percent over 2005 to 53.7 billion tonnes, it added.

The increased pollution came despite the state spending a record 256.8 billion yuan (34.2 billion dollars) on pollution control in 2006, up 7.5 percent from the previous year, it said.

Last year, China recorded 842 major pollution incidents, with more than 480 dealing with water pollution and about 230 concerning air pollution, the report said.

In September last year, two chemical plants in central China·s Hunan province illegally discharged a highly toxic arsenic compound into a tributary of Dongting Lake, the nation·s second largest freshwater lake, leading to a suspension of water supplies to 80,000 residents.

In May this year, a devastating algae outbreak in Taihu Lake in eastern China rendered tap water undrinkable for a week for more than a million residents in Wuxi city, Jiangsu province.

China·s booming economy has come at a huge cost to the environment with up to 70 percent of the nation·s waterways polluted and air quality in its biggest cities among the worst in the world.

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