Lake Baikal: Group wins UN funding to patrol shores
Friday, August 03, 2001
Financial Times, By Andrew Jack
An environmental group dedicated to protecting Russia's Lake Baikal recently won UN funding to jointly patrol the lake with local officials in an attempt to control illegal poaching, uncontrolled tourist development, illegal boating and unlicensed hot baths.
"Tourism centers are mushrooming, but the government environmental inspectors say they only have enough money to pay their salaries and not even to travel to the lake," said Jenny Sutton, founder of the group Baikal Ecological Wave.
The environmentalists' efforts were hampered last year when Russian President Vladimir Putin merged the State Environmental Committee with the Ministry of Natural Resources. Sutton said the merger resulted in removing the authority of nonprofit organizations to issue citizens' arrest warrants against polluters.
Baikal Ecological Wave has recently focused on the boom of steam bath, or banya, construction on Baikal's shores. Banya users traditionally exit the hot cabins and plunge into the lake, often covered in body oils, soap, and shampoo, all of which add environmental pressures to the lake. Located in Siberia, Lake Baikal is the world's largest and deepest freshwater lake