City mayor named ‘chief of rivers’

SHANGHAI Mayor Ying Yong has been named head of local rivers as part of a national plan to make civil servants personally responsible for improving waterways, the city government said yesterday.
The scheme appoints “river chiefs” charged with cleaning up polluted waterways and overseeing long-term sustainability.
Shanghai vice Mayor Chen Yin was named the deputy “river chief,” given personal responsibility to preserve river quality.
The city government aims to clean up all polluted rivers and other waterways by the end of the year.
“Any ‘river chief’ being found neglecting duties will be severely punished,” BaiTinghui, director of the Shanghai Water Authority told reporters yesterday.
It is the first time that leading officials’ personal performance has been closely related with river quality within their jurisdictions.
The water authority and environment watchdog will inspect the quality of the waterways with the “strictest standards” and the results will be related to the officials’ work evaluations, Bai said.
Apart from the chief and deputy heads of rivers, district Party chiefs and directors have been named river chiefs for the waterways flowing within their areas.
The heads of subdistricts and townships were appointed as the secondary river chiefs for creeks and smaller rivers.
The names and phone numbers of water chiefs will be publicized on bulletin boards along each river and waterway for residents to contact with concerns, and to allow residents to monitor their work.
“Their duties are not only to improve the water quality but also to protect the waters from being polluted again,” said Liu Xiaotao, deputy director with the water authority.
The city has found 630 kilometers of polluted rivers, mainly in suburban districts, the Shanghai Environmental Protection Bureau says.
Tailored clean-up plans have been made for each river and waterway, including dredging dried watercourses and demolishing illegal structures along the river banks.
Dredging and demolition has already stated along about 330km of polluted rivers. The entire project is due to be finished by the end of September, said Fang Fang, deputy director of the city’s environmental protection bureau.
The water authority is still conducting a survey to find polluted waterways, especially those hidden beneath villages and farmland, Bai said.
Nationwide, river chiefs have been appointed in more than a dozen provinces and cities, mostly southern provinces rich in water resources.