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31 january

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Alexander Brechalov: «It is necessary to analyze the effectiveness of the federal target program for the protection of Lake Baikal»

The President of the RF Civic Chamber took part in the session of the Public Council under the Ministry of Natural Resources and Ecology

Alexander Brechalov: «It is necessary to analyze the effectiveness of the federal target program for the protection of Lake Baikal»

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Ecology of the Russian Federation held a meeting of the Public Council under the Ministry, dedicated to the problems of Lake Baikal. Earlier on November 15 this topic was raised in the RF Civic Chamber within the framework of the "An Hour with the Minister" project with Minister Sergei Donskoi.

2017 is proclaimed as the Year of Ecology in Russia, the society expects a more systematic discussion of issues of nature and its preservation. The previous year was devoted to the problem of Lake Baikal in many ways, for many years not only citizens of our country but also the world community in general have been concerned by the condition of such a unique natural object.

The President of the RF Civic Chamber Alexander Brechalov noted that the situation at Lake Baikal is disappointing: the problem of recovery and recycling of bio waste is not solved, the lake ecosystem iis deteriorating because of, among other reasons, significant accumulated losses. Since 2006 the population of cisco has decreased by 2.5 times as a result of economic and spontaneous outdoor activities.

Alexander Brechalov added that the topic of wastewater treatment plants is very painful: "According to the federal target program “Protection of Lake Baikal and the socio-economic development of the Baikal natural territory for 2012-2020", 46 wastewater treatment plants should be constructed, modernization and reconstruction and the total cost constitutes more than 11 billion rubles, more than 3.5 billion rubles of which were allocated for 2014-2016. The report on the implementation of the federal target program informs on the progress achieved only about eight wastewater treatment plants (only two objects in 2015 were put into operation, but modernization has not increased the quality of the purification). Other six remaining wastewater treatment plants have not been modernized".

Sergei Donskoi, the Minister of Natural Resources and Ecology of the Russian Federation, also mentioned a number of unresolved issues: “The issue is comprehensive and covers such topics as verification of the lake itself, control over the water level, control over fire and recovery works, as well as the topic of switching to a new regional waste management system. It should be noted that the relevant law has already been adopted, but the transition will last two years. Baikal regions will begin this transition in the near future and we will actively assist them".

Besides, Sergey Donskoi emphasized a particular importance of the "An Hour with the Minister" project of the RF Civic Chamber, which initiated the current session in the Ministry for Protection of the Environment and Natural Resources of the Russian Federation.

The President of the RF Civic Chamber also touched upon the results of the meeting with the Minister in his speech: "Following the meeting supervisory authorities of the Kaluga region have taken control over quality of wastewater and obliged local poultry farm to reconstruct its wastewater treatment facilities. Moreover, we quickly resolved the issue of the Tomsk region forest struck by a silkworm. The Ministry has taken the decision to establish a special federal working group on coordination and elimination of the center of insect pests mass reproduction.

We have turned to a permanent public communication between the ministry and ecology experts in various fields which certainly is a good news. We should join the efforts of the All-Russia People's Front, the RF Civic Chamber and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Ecology of the Russian Federation in order to analyze the effectiveness of the federal target program "Protection of Lake Baikal and the socio-economic development of the Baikal natural territory for 2012-2020". Such work should be carried out systematically on a regular basis, including the next convocation of the Civic Chamber".

Ekaterina Uderevskaya, Member of the Public Council under the Ministry of Natural Resources and Ecology, whose project of preservation of Lake Baikal involved more than 3,000 people, also made some proposals: “It is necessary to increase the amount of funds allocated to the federal target program "Protection of Lake Baikal and the socio-economic development of the Baikal natural territory for 2012-2020" for the period of 2017-2020. We should work out modernization plans for the Baikal region, including drainage and sewage systems, as well as consider alternative sources of energy. Shortcomings of land accounting are a breeding soil for abuse by public officials in the issue of granting the land plots. This matter should be tackled urgently".

In addition, Uderevskaya proposed "An Hour of Ecology" lessons in educational institutions and promotion of eco-tourism.

Sergey Chernin, Chairman of the RF Civic Chamber Commission on Ecology and Environment Protection pointed out two major challenges: "Among the essential ecological challenges there are elimination of the accumulated environmental harm provoked by the Baikal cellulose and paper factory and waste water treatment in sparsely populated settlements The RF Civic Chamber Commission on Ecology and Environment Protection works on environmental issues in the Baikal region, in particular on the environment affected by the cellulose and paper industry. We will take into account experts’ opinions to give a comprehensive assessment of technologies, which are being designed.

Taking into account the importance of the soonest implementation of the President’s order to minimize the environmental harm to this unique natural site, it is in 2017 that the environmental measures should be launched. Especially in the light of the Year of Ecology in 2017 devoted to specially protected natural territories. Moreover, it is necessary to design a regional program to equip sparsely populated settlements with local treatment facilities made in Russia".

Apart from the technologies and programs aimed at tackling ecological challenges, Alexander Brechalov stressed that the main asset here is the people and mentioned some eminent leaders of NGOs volunteer projects already engaged in lake’s protection.

Alexander Deev is the leader of the "Zero Eight Fifteen Squad" project, which deals with protection of the area around Lake Baikal from natural forest and peat fires. More than 400 volunteers and more than 25 thousand hectares of forest plantations rescued from the fire are in his record so far.

Elmira Semyonova is the project manager of the "Olkhon - Territory of Development" project, aimed at the development of the unique island at Lake Baikal, preservation of its ecosystems and natural richness.

Alexey Nikiforov organized a series of jogging marathons entitled "International Baikal Ice Marathon", which annually attracts hundreds of thrill-seekers from all around the world. A part of the race’s income is used to plant trees in the Baikal coastal area.

"It is obvious for me that such an open discussion on the basis of the Public Council under the Ministry is very efficient. We discussed different matters, but in fact it is only during this meeting that we managed to realize that in 2017 almost none of the considerable plans of repair, reconstruction and waste treatment facilities erection included in the federal target programme will be implemented. As municipal authorities responsible for funding have not done it due to the lack of budgets, experience and so on. And it is for several years that this has been happening. Such discussion platform is important as it reveals such problems.

As co-chair of the All-Russia People's Front, I will follow the situation. During the Year of Ecology this issue requires a particular scrutiny. If necessary, we will report to the President. It was exactly the All-Russia People's Front activists who at the time asked Vladimir Putin to declare the year of 2017 as the Year of Ecology. Therefore, we feel a high responsibility for this issue", - Alexander Brechalov said.

RF Civic Chamber Media–Office

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