BAIKAL ECOLOGISTS CONCERNED ABOUT REGIONAL SITUATION

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IRKUTSK, February 21 (RIA Novosti's Alexander Batalin) - The public ecological organizations of the Irkutsk region believe that the program of the Baikal Pulp and Paper Mill is under threat of frustration. They forwarded a letter on the current alarming situation to the federal authorities, the press service of the regional administration told RIA Novosti on Monday.

According to the ecologists, till recently none of the contracts on the purchase of the equipment to reconstruct the mill has been implemented yet. In compliance with the draft schedule, about $16 million of internal and borrowed funds should have been spent on these purposes in 2004.

An observation commission of the World Bank attended the Pulp and Paper Mill in December 2004. The bank gives credits on the reconstruction of the enterprise. The management of the mill does not fulfill expert demands in time, the ecologists said.

This is confirmed in the official letter of the general director of the executive board of the Russian program of investments in the environmental protection Yuri Maksimenko.

After the adoption of the federal law On Lake Baikal Protection in 1999 the Baikal Pulp and Paper Mill cannot function without reconstruction and should stop the pollution of the lake with wastewaters, the ecologists stressed

In this connection, the complex program of the mill's reconstruction and the development of the town of Baikalsk was worked out and the investment project on the creation of the closed water-use system was implemented. The system is to be launched in 2006.

The project costs $33.5 million, including $22.4 million of borrowing funds.

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