URUMQI, March 20 (Xinhua) -- Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region has appointed 285 "river chiefs" to protect the valley of the Tarim River, China's longest inland river.
The group consists of two regional-, 19 prefecture-, 64 county- and 196 township-level chiefs, according to the regional water resources department.
The move answers the central government's call to build a river chief system nationwide amid efforts to tackle water pollution. River chiefs are tasked with resource protection, pollution prevention and control, and ecological restoration, and they will be held accountable for environmental damage in bodies of water under their supervision.
The Tarim River runs 1,321 kilometers along the rim of the barren Tarim Basin, a sparsely populated area about the size of Poland. The river valley encompasses 144 rivers, covering 1.02 million square kilometers.
Xinjiang has added 7 billion cubic meters of water into the dry main stream of lower reaches of the Tarim River in 18 water diversion projects since 4000, making the desert polar forest a tourist attraction.
Excessive irrigation in the past used too much water, which caused the river's lower reaches to run dry in the early 1970s, killing many of the trees in the forest.
About 1.2 billion cubic meters of water is expected to be discharged into the valley this year.