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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Bill Drafted to Protect Volga

A lawmaker warned Wednesday that the Volga River is under threat of becoming a polluted stream fit only for technical needs, and he and allies have drafted a bill on protecting it.

The Volga basin occupies only 8 percent of the country, but is home to some 40 percent of the country's population, or more than 57 million people, said Alexander Kosarikov, deputy head of the State Duma's environmental committee.

More than 45 percent of Russia's industry and half of its agricultural production is concentrated in the basin, and between one-half and two-thirds of the country's fertilizers and poisonous chemicals are stored there, he said.

To serve development along the shores, 20 percent of the river's water is pumped out every year for industrial and agricultural needs, Kosarikov told a news conference.

"In such conditions, the Volga has no time to restore its ecological system," he said. "This kind of water use will cause the Volga to cease to exist as a river; it will become a technological canal."

The new bill would establish quotas for the use of water and would regulate water use by the regions along the river, he said. Kosarikov and several allies want to present it to the Duma in the fall.

"If you open a new factory, then you will have to buy a quota for the use of water, either from the state or from a neighboring factory that managed to reduce its water consumption," Kosarikov said.