"15 per cent of Russian territory is in grave ecological danger" – Putin

Russia’s prime minister has called on officials and companies to join efforts in preventing what he described as an eco-nightmare facing the country.

The scary prospects were voiced at a meeting dedicated to a greener future.

Putin said that according to the annual reports from the regions, the levels of pollution in the country are constantly rising. About 10 million Russians are living in heavily polluted territories. The situation, the prime minister concluded, needs urgent state intervention.

The dumping of coil was named as being among the most burning issues. The prime minister pointed out that large areas of land are being slowly and irreversibly poisoned. As a result, Russia is sitting on around 90 billion tons of rubbish, which is enough to cover Malta more than six times over.

“The volume of waste is growing, but instead of sending it to recycling plants, companies prefer to dump it,” Putin said. “Most Russians dumps, unfortunately, are far from eco-friendly.”

The prime minister underlined that the main reason behind ecological problems is a lack of proper and effective state monitoring. He noted that country needs to encourage the use of “clean” and “green” technology with a vast package of economic stimuli.

Putin promised that in the near future companies that violate green legislation will pay much bigger fines, while eco-friendly ones could receive bonuses and government contacts.

The prime minister said officials are now working on developing the country’s ecological strategy through 2030. There are currently several high-level projects being developed to tackle environmental issues in Russia.

First among them is implementing new green technology based on the latest scientific achievements. The main aim of officials is to make such technologies cheap and effective. In EU countries, Putin added, implementation of such technologies has been obligatory since 1996.

“There are certain discrepancies between ecological safety and technological development,” Putin said. “But we need to find a balance. Of course, we need to get rid of ‘dirty’ production, to maintain high ecological standards. But we shouldn’t create new red-tape hurdles for businesses.”

Officials hope that the country’s business will soon get used to being green.

“The time is near when it will be more profitable for people to recycle waste rather than to extract hydrocarbons,” Aleksandr Torshin, from the Federation Council, told RT. “Many countries use waste in production, but in Russia it’s just being dumped – and left to contaminate the environment.”

Environmentalists argue that there is a much simpler way of tackling waste issues.

“This problem could have been solved a long time ago as the solution is simple and inexpensive,” Aleksey Kiselyov, head of Greenpeace Russia’s Toxicological Program, told RT. “What is needed is a waste separation scheme. It’s absolutely necessary – and there is no other way.”

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