Tougher stance on pol­lu­tion yields bet­ter com­pli­ance

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - CHINA - By ZHENG JINRAN zhengjin­ran@ chi­

China’s top en­vi­ron­men­tal author­ity is flex­ing its mus­cles to take on pol­lut­ing com­pa­nies through more in­spec­tions and law en­force­ment. Fines levied on vi­o­la­tors have soared in the past six months.

As of July 6, nearly twothirds of 32,004 com­pa­nies in­spected in 28 ci­ties in the Bei­jing-Tian­jin-He­bei re­gion, as well as neigh­bor­ing re­gions, had com­mit­ted var­i­ous vi­o­la­tions, ac­cord­ing to the lat­est in­for­ma­tion from the Min­istry of En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion, in­clud­ing ex­ces­sive emis­sions and in­stalling in­suf­fi­cient pol­lu­tion con­trol equip­ment.

The teams con­duct­ing the year­long in­spec­tions — which be­gan in early April and are the most thor­ough to be launched by the min­istry — found that 6,662 com­pa­nies with no op­er­at­ing li­censes had pol­luted the en­vi­ron­ment se­verely.

“Such en­hanced in­spec­tions can help lo­cal gov­ern­ments con­trol air pol­lu­tion in the re­gion and nearby ar­eas, and make com­pa­nies com­ply with the en­vi­ron­men­tal laws,” said Tian Weiy­ong, head of the min­istry’s en­vi­ron­men­tal mon­i­tor­ing bureau.

Af­ter the pol­lut­ing com­pa­nies are ex­posed for their vi­o­la­tions, the city and county gov­ern­ments are forced to deal with the prob­lems, he said.

More than 1,400 pol­lu­tion­re­lated prob­lems have been solved by shut­ting down the com­pa­nies’ op­er­a­tions, ac­cord­ing to the min­istry.

The min­istry will send in­spec­tors to recheck the com­pa­nies to en­sure that prob­lems have been rec­ti­fied, Tian said.

“It’s shock­ing to see the

To­tal fines is­sued by en­vi­ron­men­tal au­thor­i­ties in the first half of the year

re­sult that two-thirds are not com­pli­ant, which shows gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials don’t al­ways have the abil­ity to en­force the law,” Dim­itri de Boer, head of Clien­tEarth China, an en­vi­ron­men­tal NGO reg­is­tered with the min­istry, said on Sun­day. But the in­spec­tions help to ex­pose many prob­lems and put en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion higher on the lo­cal agenda, he said.

In ad­di­tion to the beefedup in­spec­tions, en­vi­ron­men­tal au­thor­i­ties na­tion­wide have taken steps to con­trol pol­lu­tion through the help of the re­vised Law on En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion, which took ef­fect on Jan 1, 2015.

In the first half of this year, the au­thor­i­ties is­sued fines to­tal­ing 610 mil­lion yuan ($90 mil­lion), an in­crease of 131 per­cent over the same pe­riod last year, ac­cord­ing to the min­istry.

In ad­di­tion, more than 3,800 pol­lut­ing com­pa­nies were re­quired to sus­pend pro­duc­tion. Peo­ple re­spon­si­ble for pol­lu­tion at those com­pa­nies and others — 3,939 cases al­to­gether — were de­tained, the min­istry said.

In ad­di­tion to the in­spec­tions and law en­force­ment, to re­duce pol­lu­tion across the whole coun­try, it’s also im­por­tant for the pub­lic to play a larger role, with or­di­nary peo­ple par­tic­i­pat­ing in su­per­vi­sion, Dim­itri said.

Pub­lic par­tic­i­pa­tion will help bring en­vi­ron­men­tal prob­lems to light, help­ing gov­ern­ments find so­lu­tions, he said.

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