Agenda: The implementation of measures to rehabilitate water bodies, the results of the nationwide online voting for new urban development improvements, extending the simplified procedure of medication registration.
Marat Khusnullin’s report on the results of the nationwide online voting for new urban development improvements
Excerpts from the transcript:
Russia marks Ecologist Day today. As the President said, issues of environmental protection are of continued importance.
I want to welcome everyone who works in this area to preserve our unique natural resources. And, of course, I want to welcome active citizens who volunteer in this mission that is important for everyone. Clean air, water, the preservation of animals and plants, the implementation of measures related to counteracting climate change – all these steps are necessary for the improvement of the quality of life of our people.
World Environment Day is celebrated in Russia and the rest of the world on 5 June at the initiative of the United Nations. Only together, by joining efforts can we put our planet in order.
One of the key areas of this work is water arteries. The Government is actively involved in improving their condition.
Ms Abramchenko, please report on what is being done to rehabilitate
Clean water is indeed essential for comfortable living. Therefore, a key area of the Government’s work is the ecological restoration of bodies of water and the preservation of drinking water supply sources. Clean fresh water is this country’s strategic resource. The Environment national project includes three federal water projects: Preservation of Unique Bodies of Water, Recovery of the Volga, and Preservation of Lake Baikal.
I will report on what has been achieved in this area.
The Recovery of the Volga federal project is aimed at reducing the amount of waste water dumped into the river by 66.7 percent, ensuring the stable functioning of the Lower Volga’s water resources utilisation system and preserving the ecosystem of the Volga-Akhtuba flood plain.
Building purification works is the key to the project. It is the Volga basin that accounts for almost half of fresh water used for drinking and household and practical needs. We can only fight sewage dumping by building purification installations and introducing a closed cycle technology of water use at industrial plants.
The Government has allocated over 70 percent of the project’s budget (almost 85 billion roubles) to create or rebuild purification facilities, with 93 of them built anew or upgraded in 15 Volga regions within the past 3 years. The Nizhny Novgorod Region is leading others in this respect with 31 built installations. It is followed by Tatarstan (14) and the Yaroslavl Region (11). There are plans to build or modernise another 39 installations at the cost of 29.6 billion roubles in 2023 and 2024.
As a result of the implementation of the federal project, the volume of untreated runoff into the Volga River decreased by 30 percent.
In addition, 48 culverts have been put into operation to improve water exchange in the Lower Volga, which exceeds the target by 37 percent.
We can already see the effect of the work carried out. Despite this year's low-water period in the Volgograd Region, the constructed culverts made it possible to fill the floodplain by 80 percent. Previously, a similar discharge through the Volgograd waterworks only filled the floodplain by 50 percent.
The second area of activity is related to the preservation of Lake Baikal.
We are dealing with this issue systematically. All decisions are taken collectively with senators, deputies, governors of the regions around Lake Baikal and the Academy of Sciences within the framework of meetings of a specially created Governmental Commission for Baikal preservation.
This year, we began the active phase of eliminating the accumulated environmental damage from the Baikal Pulp and Paper Mill. We started working on this site back in 2013. Over seven years, three contractors changed; they were not up to the task.
In three years, we completed all the urgent measures, carried out the necessary surveys, ensured the drafting of design documentation, and received positive conclusions from state expert assessments. With the support of the President, we chose Rosatom as the sole contractor for this work, and its team is on schedule.
Now two government contracts have been signed: for the disposal of waste from the mill's central treatment facilities with the most hazardous substance - black liquor (290,000 cubic metres of it have been accumulated), and for the disposal of waste from the Babkhinsky landfill. In total, the Government has allocated 6.6 billion roubles for the elimination of the mill's waste this year.
To reduce the load on the lake, we are building and renovating sewage treatment facilities in the communities within the Baikal nature area. We expect to commission three treatment facilities in the Trans-Baikal Territory this year, and reconstruct sewage treatment facilities on the right bank of Irkutsk and Ulan-Ude in 2024.
And, of course, as part of the Environment national project, we are cleaning up rubbish on the banks of water bodies. Last year, we completed 22,000 cleaning efforts. Volunteers are actively assisting us in this. Over 1.3 million people take part in the clean-up activities at rivers and lakes every year.
Mr Mishustin, thanks to the water projects, we have improved the quality of life of those living near water bodies. According to expert estimates, this is more than 12.5 million people.
In his Address to the Federal Assembly, the President gave instructions to develop a unified federal project for the improvement of water bodies, beginning in 2025. We plan to extend it to the entire Volga basin, including the Oka, Kama, Don, Irtysh, Ural, Ob, Terek, Volkhov and Neva rivers and Lake Ilmen.
The rivers mentioned in the Address are the largest water routes of the country suffering from the most pollution.
According to the report data, 39 percent of all effluents, including its main tributaries Oka and Kama, flow into the Volga basin, 15 percent into the Irtysh and Ural basin, 13 percent into the Baltic basin, 11 percent into the Don (including Kuban), almost 5 percent into the Amur and 2 percent into the Terek.
In order to effectively rehabilitate water bodies and significantly improve the environmental situation, we devise measures according to the principle of basin districts, considering regional characteristics.
Ten federal departments and regional teams will participate in the project.
Now we are working on developing the project in several areas.
First, similar to the General Cleanup project, we are carrying out an inventory of pollution, analysing how it affects the health of people and the environment. This is necessary for ecological restoration, above all, in places where resolving these problems is urgent. We will complete the inventory by 1 September 2023.
It is important that the project includes measures for the environmental rehabilitation of water bodies in the Lugansk and Donetsk people’s republics and the Kherson and Zaporozhye regions. In order to identify the acutest water-related problems, we are also carrying out an inventory. As soon as this year, as part efforts to increase water availability, we will clean up the Kalmius River, which flows through the Donetsk People’s Republic.
Second, we are planning activities to dredge and clear riverbeds from aquatic vegetation and wood debris.
The third area is related to the reduction of water loss.
We are planning to rebuild hydraulic structures and reclamation facilities. Throughput and proper irrigation depend on their condition.
Separately, in line with your instructions, Mr Mishustin, we are clearing sunken ships in the Far East. Last year, we raised and disposed of 43 ships. This year, we plan to dispose of 87 ships, with 27 of them already removed.
Today there are state contracts to raise and dispose of another 31 vessels. Soon we are planning to sign state contracts to raise and dispose of nine vessels. There are plans to use extra-budgetary funding to raise and dispose of 16 ships. The plans also include the removal of two ships by the owner and two more by the Federal Agency for State Property Management.
Mr Mishustin, the work on the ecological restoration of our rivers and lakes is under the special control of the Government and will continue.
It is important for people to feel the real effect of the measures implemented. And thanks to the new project, we will be able to cover more water bodies and thus improve the quality of life of at least 80 million people.
I would like to take this occasion to thank you for your constant support for the ecological initiatives of the environmental bloc and congratulate all ecologists on their professional holiday and World Environment Day.
Mikhail Mishustin: Ms Abramchenko, the President’s instructions to expand the geography of the existing federal water projects must be implemented on schedule and to the fullest extent possible. Please monitor the creation of the integrated federal project on environmental rehabilitation of rivers and lakes.
As for the cleaning of bays and waterways of sunken ships. Given the beginning of the summer season, it is necessary to see whether this work can be expedited. If necessary, provide assistance to our regions, including by promoting the most successful solutions and practices. Please, keep these measures under control.
Moving on. Last Wednesday, the third nationwide online vote for new urban improvement projects concluded.
Millions of voters picked sites in over 1,500 municipal entities which will be improved first.
Local residents know best if a city lacks public gardens, what districts need additional children’s and sports grounds and public spaces. Thanks to this approach, their opinion becomes a guideline for urban improvement. This is a mechanism for direct public participation in creating a comfortable urban environment, which we are creating at the instruction of the President.
Over the past few months, over 55,000 sites and facilities have been improved as part of the national project. The sites and facilities selected during this vote will be added to the total.
Mr Khusnullin, please tell us more about the results.
Marat Khusnullin: Mr Mishustin.
As you said, the President instructed us to increase the share of citizens taking part in the discussion of urban development to 30 percent. To reach this goal, we launched a mechanism for direct public participation in creating a comfortable urban environment, the national online vote held as part of the Housing and Urban Environment national project. We are currently working on improving the accessibility of this tool so that each citizen will find it understandable and user-friendly.
On May 31, the third national voting for urban development improvements concluded. Russians picked parks, embankments, public gardens, streets, squares, courtyards and public areas which are to be improved first. They also picked design projects for the selected areas.
The first results have been summarised: grounds and facilities that need to be improved on a priority basis were selected.
In 2023, over 14 million people from 87 Russian regions took part in the vote, which exceeded the planned number by almost 2 million. This is a new record. Two years ago, 9.7 million voters took part, and 10.7 million in 2022.
It is noteworthy that this year, the new Russian regions also joined the nationwide vote.
The total number of public spaces submitted for public discussion was over 5,000, including 4,700 public areas (public gardens, embankments, streets, parks and courtyards) and some 350 design projects.
Volunteers assisted in carrying out the vote. In total, more than 93,000 volunteers in all municipalities participating in the programme to help inform citizens and hold the vote.
Let me list the regions with the greatest public activity; these include the Chechen Republic, the republics of Altai, Bashkortostan and Tyva, the Tomsk, Sverdlovsk, Chelyabinsk, Saratov, and Samara regions, the Stavropol Territory and the Yamal-Nenets Autonomous Area. According to the results, the Chechen Republic, the Tomsk Region and the Republic of Tyva more than doubled last year's activity figures.
These figures indicate the interest of our people in transforming their own urban environment, and show the effectiveness of this new tool, as well as the high level of organising the voting process.
I want to thank the country’s leadership for their support and all of our colleagues who are involved in the implementation of this project. We hope that in the next vote we will manage to increase the number of participants and achieve no less effective results.
Mikhail Mishustin: Thank you, Mr Khusnullin.
This public voting provides a good opportunity to make your own city or town more comfortable and more convenient for everyday life. It is good that more and more people are participating in the voting and expressing their opinion. This kind of feedback that the President is talking about is very important.
Now it is necessary that the selected projects be implemented at a high level. Please keep this under your personal control.
Another important issue.
Due to the external restrictions imposed against our country, many supply chains have been disrupted. In order for the pharmaceuticals to be able to bring new drugs to the domestic market faster, the Government will extend the application for a number of simplified procedures until the end of next year.
First of all, we are talking about the registration of analogues of medicines already available in Russia, as well as obtaining permits for the import of original medicines with labeling in foreign languages, of course, if there are labels with translations into Russian on the packaging when selling them. This will provide people with necessary medicines.