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Putin Asks Cabinet to Relieve Baikal Paper Mill Environmental Damage by 2020

© Sputnik / Nik PavlovAt the Lake Baikal
At the Lake Baikal - Sputnik International
Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered the government to liquidate the negative environmental impact produced by the closed down Baikal Pulp and Paper Mill, once a major polluter of Lake Baikal, the largest fresh water reservoir in the world, the president's administration said Thursday.

MOSCOW (Sputnik) — Moreover, the president assigned his cabinet to examine the possible prolongation of the federal program aimed at protecting the ecosystem of Lake Baikal, as well as to consider increasing its funding.

"To provide the full implementation of measures to relieve the consequences of the negative effect produced by the waste accumulated during the operation of the Baikal Pulp and Paper Mill, funding from the federal budget allocations for 2018 and the planned allocations for 2019 and 2020, as well as the authorization of a sole contractor to conduct these relief measures [are needed]," the statement said.

Putin also ordered the government to increase the payroll budget of state environment inspectors. The government has to report on the program's implementation by December 1.

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The Baikal Pulp and Paper Mill was launched on the southern shore of Lake Baikal in 1966. Until being restructured in 2007, the mill was the major polluter of the lake, dumping anywhere between 36 and 48 million metric tons of waste into the water annually. Environmentalists had repeatedly drawn the attention of government agencies to the devastating effect the factory had on the local ecosystem until it was completely shut down in 2013.

Lake Baikal is the oldest and deepest freshwater lake in the world, located in southern Siberia near the Mongolian border.

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