For oil's sake?

Published: Sunday 15 February 2004

Could oil be the reason for the European Investment Bank (eib) giving a loan to Russia for a wastewater treatment plant? Pursuant to a decision taken by the European Council in Stockholm, the eib will give over us $31 million to the St Petersburg water company, Vodokanal, for the South West Wastewater Treatment Plant. It is the first project in Russia to receive funding from eib. The eu has encouraged the bank to support environmental projects in the Baltic Sea Rim of Russia.

Oil pricing has been a standard factor influencing relations between the eu and Russia. The wastewater treatment plant has also been funded by the Nordic Investment Bank.

For Russia, on the environment front, it would be a welcome relief since studies show that one in every third child in Russia is ill because of pollution. The Russian government has been focusing only on the country's economy, in the process neglecting environmental issues .

Sauli Niinisto, vice-president of eib, said: "The loan will help in the financing and completion of an essential environmental project that will not only have a positive impact on the environment of St Petersburg but also in countries having access to the Baltic Sea." The project will improve wastewater services for over 7,20,000 citizens and will contribute to the upgrading of water quality in the Baltic Sea.

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