The President also heard a report by Emergencies Minister Vladimir Puchkov about the measures against flooding and the preparations for the wildfire season, as well as reports by Natural Resources and Environment Minister Sergei Donskoy and Industry and Trade Minister Denis Manturov about the measures to reduce the negative impact on the environment and industrial modernisation. Deputy Prime Minister Olga Golodets delivered a report on the recent efforts to support mothers and children that have been implemented since January 1.
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President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, colleagues,
Today we will be discussing the expanded use of gas as motor fuel. This is why we have Mr Zubkov with us [Viktor Zubkov, Chairman of the Board of Directors at Gazprom and Special Presidential Representative for Cooperation with the Gas Exporting Countries Forum]. He will tell us what Gazprom is doing and what we intend to do in this sphere in general. I have said this before, but I will repeat that we must clearly pay more attention to environmental issues, considering global trends, in particular in automobile manufacturing, such as the growing use of electric cars. However, the use of gas as motor fuel appears to be preferable in Russia, including for environmental reasons, because you need to produce electricity before you can use it. A considerable part of electricity is produced at coal-fired plants. It is a major element which few people take into account.
Before we get down to the main issue on our agenda, I would like to ask [Emergencies Minister Vladimir] Puchkov to tell us about the spring flooding relief efforts and preparations for the forest wildfire season, which has actually begun.
Go ahead, please.
Minister of Civil Defence, Emergencies and Disaster Relief Vladimir Puchkov: Mr President, colleagues,
Acting to implement the decisions of the February 15, 2018 meeting of the Security Council, the Emergencies Ministry together with federal and regional agencies is taking the necessary measures to protect populated areas and social infrastructure from spring floods and wildfires.
Spring floods are the key priority. First, we placed the emergencies monitoring and forecasting system on high alert. We have additionally deployed 3,000 stream flow measuring stations throughout the country, prepared temporary placement sites for the public and taken other social, medical and food support measures, especially in remote areas that have been cut off by floods.
We are discharging water from reservoirs ahead of the spring floods, reinforcing dams, preparing water intake facilities and checking ponds, as well as taking a number of other measures. We are paying special attention to the anthrax burial sites, tailing dumps and biothermic pits that can be flooded.
We have deployed an emergency control system and a large group of flood prevention forces under the Unified State System of Emergency Prevention and Elimination. These forces comprise over 720,000 people, 147,000 vehicles (including aircraft) and 13,600 water crafts. We also have on hand 13,500 airborne rescuers and over 150 mobile groups of demolition personnel with experience of working in emergency conditions, as well as water reserves and other basic necessities.
Second, spring flooding has entered an active phase in southern Siberia, the Volga region and central Russia. Over 400 populated areas with over 5,000 buildings, private households, bridges and social facilities have been flooded, affecting over 18,000 people.
Water is receding in southern Siberia and central Russia, but floods are rising in northwest Russia and the northern regions of the Urals and Siberia. We have put these regions on high alert for emergencies and taken additional measures to help people in the flooded areas.
This has allowed us to stabilise the situation in the Republic of Altai, the Volgograd, Voronezh and several other regions.
Emergencies Ministry rescue workers and local administrations are providing targeted aid to the people in the flooded areas. After the water subsides, they will systematically restore the roads, power lines, and the other communications. They are distributing targeted aid to residences, primarily large families and people living alone. They are also monitoring the distribution of pensions and the provision of the necessary social services.
The most complicated situation is in the Volgograd Region, but the well-coordinated efforts of the federal centre, the emergency services and commissions in the Volgograd Region and the work of the local authorities made it possible to quickly take the necessary measures. These efforts have been organised in the Voronezh, Lipetsk, Penza, Ivanovo and Nizhny Novgorod regions, to name a few. Temporary crossings have been set up and material and human resources are being transferred to the flooded areas, depending on the forecast.
There were problems in some farmsteads and other populated areas. This year we streamlined the procedures for directly addressing the Emergencies Ministry and regional governors for the first time, which allowed us to promptly take the necessary prevention measures. Additional measures were taken in anticipation of the northward movement of the flood: explosives were used to clear 170 jam-prone sections of the rivers, and over 300 km of ice on the rivers were cut up. Some sections of ice were blackened and a number of other measures were taken to weaken the ice sheet and monitor the engineering protection system. Any bottlenecks are promptly removed.
The fourth important task is to ensure the safe operation of 375 ice crossings and winter trails. In cooperation with the regions, and with consideration for the weather forecast, we adjusted the schedule for removing the ice crossings and winter trails while observing safety measures.
Many rescue operations were carried out already this year. In all, we evacuated 387 fishermen from ice floes in April in the Sea of Okhotsk, the Far East, Lake Ladoga, the Gulf of Finland, and the Volga River, to name a few. In general, the Unified State System of Emergency Prevention and Elimination has been working well. Personnel have been deployed and infrastructure is on standby as we monitor the development of the flooding and the weather forecast, to minimise the damage.
Second, the protection of populated areas and social infrastructure from wildfires.
Comrade President of the Russian Federation, we have put out over 700 wildfire sources in the Far East and Siberia. The situation is currently complicated in the Amur Region, the Khabarovsk Territory, Trans-Baikal Territory and several other regions in Siberia and the Far East. Emergency situation regime has been declared in the forested areas of the Amur Region and 10 other Russian regions, and 253 municipalities have introduced fire prevention plans. We are also taking a number of other measures.
Second, we maintain around-the-clock space and ground fire monitoring as one of our crisis management measures. We are using the International Charter on Space and Major Disasters for this. As a result, we promptly receive comprehensive information from both Russian and international satellites. A strong group of over 1.2 million firefighting rescuers with the necessary equipment, gear and tools have been deployed and are working to fulfil their tasks.
Comrade President of the Russian Federation, acting in compliance with your instructions, we have reviewed the readiness of the federal aviation group, the aircraft of the Emergencies Ministry, the Defence Ministry and the National Guard Service. On April 25, we held an exercise on the interoperability of these federal services and the relevant ground forces that are in charge of preventing and taking emergency measures to put out fires. The local governments are working on this as well.
Our third priority is the monitoring of the 8,000 populated areas and over 3,000 farming associations located in forested areas. We have taken measures to inspect the local governments’ emergency fire preparedness. These inspections revealed over 2,500 violations. We are monitoring the efforts to correct these violations. The majority of them are being corrected. This is being done very quickly based on complaints from local residents and heads of municipalities.
The Emergencies Ministry, in cooperation with federal agencies, is holding events on fire safety and natural and man-made disaster relief in the 2018 FIFA World Cup host cities. The measures also include the prevention of man-made and wildfires in the entire European part of Russia, from Sochi to Kaliningrad and Yekaterinburg.
Comrade President of the Russian Federation, the set of additional measures to protect the population and social infrastructure from flooding and wildfires allows us to reduce losses in a difficult situation and help boost the efforts of the relevant agencies with regard to this situation.
The management and forces of the Unified State System of Emergency Prevention and Elimination continue to fulfil their tasks. Our priority is to provide assistance to the victims and implement the range of other measures.
This concludes my report.
Vladimir Putin: Regarding assistance for flood victims, your agency is not the only one that organises this work, but you are working actively at this, too. In your opinion, how is it going as far as providing help to the victims is concerned? How does your agency see it?
Vladimir Puchkov: Comrade President of the Russian Federation, as for EMERCOM, we held additional inspections on the preparedness of the local governments in the Russian regions: they are actively helping people.
I met with some flood victims in the Voronezh and Volgograd regions. In general, they have a positive attitude and appreciate what the local government is doing for them.
There were, of course, some problem areas, but the targeted and meticulous work, especially at the local level, will allow us to take the necessary measures quickly. We will increase the potential of this work, Mr President.
Vladimir Putin: Mr Medvedev, I ask the Government tokeep this under control.
Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev: Yes, Mr President, certainly.
Vladimir Putin: There is one more issue that I would like to discuss today. It is directly linked with environmental problems.
As you know, in the last few months we have been deciding what should be done on compliance with environmental regulations and how. We also know well that this is a particularly urgent issue in a number of cities, such as Bratsk, Krasnoyarsk, Lipetsk, Magnitogorsk, Mednogorsk, Nizhny Tagil, Novokuznetsk, Norilsk, Omsk, Chelyabinsk, Cherepovets and Chita. The largest emissions into the atmosphere have been recorded there.
I also asked you to pay attention to the enterprises that dump untreated sewage into the Volga River and Lake Baikal. We agreed to launch a new programme in 2019 introducing a new system of environmental regulation. It is necessary to compile a list of 300 enterprises. All others will be added to it later on. I would like to ask Mr Donskoy about this work.
Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Sergei Donskoy: Thank you.
In your Address to the Federal Assembly you spoke about the need to ensure high environmental standards of living for our people, primarily in large industrial centres.
As you have already said, we launched environmental reforms on industry with the adoption of the law on best available technology (BAT) in 2014. As part of this, all enterprises with a negative impact on the environment were divided into four categories depending on the extent of their impact. Under this law, enterprises of the first category – with the highest environmental risk – are obligated to transition to BAT.
Today, over 6,500 such enterprises have been added to the state registry. The law provides for the phased transition to a new regulatory system: these 300 enterprises should be the first to adopt BAT in the period from 2019 to 2022 as their share of emissions and discharge exceeds 60 percent. We have compiled and endorsed this list that includes major chemical and metallurgical plants, ore-dressing facilities, pulp-and-paper mills, thermal and hydro-electric power plants, and sewage treatment works. The list includes enterprises that are the main polluters in major industrial centres. You mentioned them: Chelyabinsk, Krasnoyarsk, Nizhny Tagil, Magnitogorsk, Norilsk, Bratsk and some other cities that require special environmental attention. The Volga River is our priority project as well.
Mr President, in addition, to support the enterprises we have introduced incentives, including discounted fees for negative environmental impact. For example, they may reduce fees for emissions and discharge by adopting BAT. Meanwhile, starting on January 1, 2020 the coefficients on rates for excessive emissions and discharge will quadruple – from 25 to 100.
It is also necessary to install automated emission control systems at these enterprises as part of the transition to new regulatory rules. The Ministry has drafted corresponding legislative amendments and submitted them to the State Duma. We hope the deputies will support this document during the spring session. This will complete the overall regulatory system in this area.
Thank you for your attention.
Vladimir Putin: Mr Manturov, how does your Ministry assess this work?
Minister of Industry and Trade Denis Manturov: Mr President,
As part of the transition to the latest available technologies, we are working to reduce the negative impact on the environment, and we are also carrying out a large-scale modernisation of the industry as a whole. We have completed a three-year plan with the business community to develop 51 BAT reference books, and since 2015, under import replacement programmes, the necessary domestic equipment has been developed; the list was approved by the Government the other day. This equipment will be distributed. The law provides for accelerated depreciation. The most important models of new equipment will be manufactured in 2019–2020 and will be used in the technical re-equipment of the 300 pilot companies you mentioned.
In general, the modernisation of 6,500 companies, according to preliminary estimates, will require about 9 trillion rubles in additional private investment. Thanks to this, we will be able to keep enterprises busy in different engineering sectors that are oriented toward new means of production.
Vladimir Putin: Are you planning any more rescheduling?
Denis Manturov: No, we are not.
Vladimir Putin: Alright, let’s go from here.
And I would like to address one more subject at the beginning of our meeting that I consider extremely important – support for motherhood, childhood, and consequently the related problems of demographic development.
As you know, on January 1 of this year, we launched new mechanisms to support motherhood and childhood; families with modest incomes now have the right to receive a monthly cash benefit in the amount of a child's subsistence minimum based on regional norms, which average approximately 11,000 rubles. And two additional opportunities for using maternity capital: the benefit for a second child with maternity capital, and benefits for day nursery for children from two months old.
I would like Ms Golodets to tell us how using these new tools, mechanisms and opportunities is going.
Deputy Prime Minister Olga Golodets: Mr President, colleagues,
Indeed, starting January 1, measures have been taken pursuant to your instruction of December 2, 2017, across all Russian regions. Currently, there is no region where benefits are not being provided.
The measure most highly in demand is the first child allowance. Some 27,965 families are already getting this money. Every day we receive more applications, and there have been some positive changes. Eighteen regions showed an increase in the birth rate over February, which has not happened for quite a while. So, the new benefits are working and are good support for young families.
Some 2,083 families decided to use maternity capital to support and raise a second child. It was surprising to us that a large number of families (more than we expected) are using maternity capital to pay for day nursery. This means that new mothers these days want to go back to work.
We can accept more children into day nurseries. In addition, I would like to mention that we have adopted a document that distributes money for the construction of day nurseries among the regions and now day nursery benefits are being used by 3,896 families. The Government supervises the programme. We are monitoring this as it is being implemented in different regions.
The most active areas in this respect are the Rostov Region, the Stavropol Territory, the Krasnodar Territory and Moscow. But every region is paying the benefit. There are no disruptions in the programme. Notably, information about this programme is easily available to families. Women learn about it at prenatal clinics and directly in maternity hospitals. The programme will be supervised further and we will report on future results.
Vladimir Putin: Thank you.
Let’s move to the main issue of gas engine fuel use.