Staunton, March 22 – To clean up any river, a government program must not only address all the enterprises along its banks but its tributaries as well. Otherwise, that program will at best improve the situation in a particular stretch of the waterway but fail to make any real progress. Unfortunately, Moscow’s program fails on both grounds, Russian experts say.
On the one hand, they say, it does not limit the number of licenses granted to firms along rivers and thus does not effectively limit pollutants dumped untreated into Russia’s rivers. And on the other, it fails to treat large segments of major rivers and nearly all of their tributaries, thus allowing what is still dirty to contaminate that which has been cleaned.
As both Russian environmental experts and even the Russian government itself acknowledge, overcoming these shortcomings will require a federal response because no region controls all of the flow of rivers. But that response has not been forthcoming, all official propaganda notwithstanding.
These problems are the subject of two new studies. One, on the Volga basin, finds that despite plans to spend 190 billion rubles (three billion US dollars) by 2024, Moscow has not addressed polluters on much of that river’s length or on any of its tributaries (dailystorm.ru/obschestvo/v-programmu-ozdorovleniya-volgi-kotoraya-oboydetsya-v-190-milliardov-rubley-ne-voshli-regiony-s-gryaznymi-pritokami).
As a result, Ilya Gorshkov of the Daily Storm news portal says, the federal authorities have done little despite their claims. Indeed, it is entirely possible that this program is yet another way to give the appearance of responding to a problem but doing so in a way that allows the powers that be to transfer public money into private hands.
And a second, by the Russian section of the World Wildlife Fund, about the situation in Siberia and the Far East finds that rivers in this enormous portion of the Russian Federation are rapidly becoming more polluted with serious negative consequences for the population and the environment (vtimes.io/2021/03/22/reki-sibiri-i-dalnego-vostoka-sistemno-zagryaznyayutsya-a3929).
The only places where rivers in those two federal districts remain relatively clean is in industrially underdeveloped areas near the headwaters of the rivers. Everywhere else the water in the rivers is either dirty or extremely dirty. And what is most devastating about the WWF findings is that they rest on and are confirmed by the Russian government’s own statistics.