Of­fi­cials caught pro­tect­ing pol­luters

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - TOP NEWS -

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en­vi­ron­men­tal as­sess­ment.

In fact, mon­i­tor­ing fa­cil­i­ties at the Xiang­tan Soda Co did not work, and emis­sions were ex­ces­sive for a long time, the min­istry said.

In­spec­tors found some gov­ern­ments were nei­ther will­ing nor able to reg­u­late ma­jor pol­luters.

Some non­fer­rous me­tal min­ing and smelt­ing plants, branches of China Min­metals Corp, a Beijing-based cor­po­rate group with as­sets worth 1.6 tril­lion yuan ($238 bil­lion), should have been pun­ished for dozens of pol­lu­tion prob­lems since 2013 in Hu­nan, the cen­tral in­spec­tors found. In­stead, lo­cal en­vi­ron­ment bu­reaus did not do that, and the com­pa­nies re­fused to cor­rect the prob­lems, the in­spec­tors said.

In­spec­tors found the lead­er­ship of the three prov­inces did not pay suf­fi­cient at­ten­tion to en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion, poorly im­ple­ment­ing their ef­forts, while many com­pa­nies were found to have ex­ces­sive and il­le­gal emis­sions.

Af­ter the month­long in­spec­tion, 2,653 of­fi­cials had been held ac­count­able for their per­for­mance as of June, the state­ments said.

Over 12,800 pol­lut­ing com­pa­nies were re­quired to sus­pend pro­duc­tion or shut down, a to­tal of 185 mil­lion yuan in fines were col­lected and 237 peo­ple from the com­pa­nies were de­tained by the end of June.

Ma Yong, an en­vi­ron­men­tal law re­searcher at the Supreme Peo­ple's Court le­gal cen­ter, hailed the thor­ough in­spec­tion and se­vere pun­ish­ment that fol­lowed, which has changed the be­hav­ior of some gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials and com­pa­nies.

“We have to ad­mit that some gov­ern­ments did have se­vere prob­lems, but it was a good op­por­tu­nity for cen­tral in­spec­tion to cor­rect their be­hav­iors,” Ma said.

He added the cen­tral gov­ern­ment should es­tab­lish other ways to im­ple­ment high­level in­spec­tions to keep the pres­sure on ir­re­spon­si­ble of­fi­cials and com­pa­nies for longer than just a month.

China has con­ducted four rounds of in­spec­tions since Jan­uary 2015, and all 31 pro­vin­cial re­gions will be cov­ered by the end of 2017, of­fi­cials said.

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