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    IRKUTSK, March 18, 2004 (RIA Novosti) - The rules of the use of Lake Baikal's water resources will be amended, Nikilai Tarasov, Russian First Deputy Natural Resources Minister, said, Thursday, at a conference in Irkutsk (near Lake Baikal, centre of the homonymous region).

    Mr Tarasov said the Russian government had also ordered the ministry to work out, before the year's end, new regulations for the use of the hydro power stations of the Angara and Yenissei basin. The regulations adopted in the 1980s continue to be in force. However, the climatic and economic situations have changed considerably since then, noted the deputy minister.

    The ban to use Baikal's water resources in the event the lake's water level sinks lower than 456 metres, is one of the most sensitive issues for power engineers. Experts say this ban can be lifted without detriment to Baikal's ecosystem. Among other things, this will help rule out power supply disruptions, insist experts.

    The conference involved officials from the Energy and Transport Ministry, the Russian Hydrometeorological Service, the Emergencies Ministry and experts from the Irkutsk region, the Krasnoyarsk Territory, and the Republics of Buryatia and Khakasia, all located in Siberia.

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