27 august 2008

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin had a working meeting with Minister of Natural Resources and Ecology Yury Trutnev

The questions that appeared during fulfilling the decisions taken at a meeting on more effective use of water resources in Rostov were discussed during the meeting.

Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, Mr Truntnev, I am listening. How are things?

Yury Trutnev: Thank you, Mr Putin, fine. I want to report on progress in fulfilling the decisions taken at a meeting in Rostov, which you chaired, on more effective use of water resources.

Currently, we are drafting proposals on how to improve methods of water management. The work will take all September and be finished by the end of the month. The central consideration is water quality and its improvement. Unfortunately, we have not made much progress here. You must know that 90% of all effluents discharged into water bodies are not treated to required standards and 60% of pollutants come from housing and communal services.

We have made a close study of the situation and can definitely state now that basic legislation is to blame for it. To begin with, charges for discharging pollutants into water are too low for companies either to economise on consumption or treat waste-water before discharging it.

Besides, the existing system allows an official to set provisional quotas for discharges. The procedure is very vulnerable to corruption, because it is done at will. The official merely permits the company to discharge for several years more effluents than is possible under the legislation in hand.

We have drafted an appropriate government decision. The first step we propose is to do away with provisional quotas completely. In other words, we recognise there is a relevant law and there are discharge amounts based on maximum possible concentrations; everything over and above the norm must be paid for.

The decision will double all charges. But the increase will be small. Today companies discharging effluents into water bodies pay just 3.2 billion roubles. But they will be paying 6.4 billion. That is step one.

As the next step we propose that starting in 2014 charges be raised tenfold compared with the current level. This is exactly the amount of money we need to build treatment facilities. So business will either itself build them and pay nothing over and above the regular fee, or will pay to the state, which itself will fulfil these functions.

Vladimir Putin: Get your proposals ready.

Yury Trutnev: Thank you, Mr Putin.