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SHANGHAI (Reuters) - China will appoint "river chiefs" to prevent pollution in the nation's waterways, the official Xinhua news agency reported on Monday, in the latest step taken by Beijing to rein in environmental damage.
With the evolution of China from an agricultural nation to an industrial one, toxic pollutants from factories have increasingly seeped into the environment, leading to health problems among the population.
A detailed system for appointing the chiefs will be published by the Ministry of Water Resources and Ministry of Environmental Protection on Tuesday, the agency reported Zhou Xuewen, deputy of Water Resources, saying at a press conference on Monday.
"New problems have mushroomed along with fast economic and social development, including excessive discharging of pollutants into rivers and lakes," said Zhou.
River chiefs will protect water resources, control and prevent pollution and restore the ecology, according to a document forwarded by the general offices of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and the State Council.
They will be held accountable if environmental damage occurs in the rivers under their supervision and their names and responsibilities will be made public to ensure oversight, the document said.
Government officials will be hired at the provincial, city, county and township levels, with large rivers and lakes partitioned across multiple officials.
On Monday, the Ministry of Finance criticized some local governments for misappropriating funds earmarked for smog control.
Reporting by Engen Tham; Editing by Michael Perry