Xion­gan New Area pun­ishes pol­luters

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - TOP NEWS - By ZHANG YU in Shi­ji­azhuang zhangyu1@ chi­nadaily.com.cn

The coun­ties that form the Xion­gan New Area in He­bei province have shut down thou­sands of pol­lut­ing com­pa­nies since the move to cre­ate the area was an­nounced in April.

More than 7,200 com­pa­nies that dis­charged heavy pol­lu­tion were in­ves­ti­gated and nearly 4,000 were closed, ac­cord­ing to an an­nounce­ment on the area’s pub­lic WeChat ac­count.

About 100 peo­ple in­volved were ar­rested and de­tained for ques­tion­ing about con­tam­i­nat­ing the en­vi­ron­ment.

The sever­ity of the pu­n­ish­ment showed the de­ter­mi­na­tion of the area’s lead­ers to tackle en­vi­ron­men­tal prob­lems, ob­servers said.

Of­fi­cials in the Xion­gan New Area, a zone es­tab­lished to ad­vance the co­or­di­nated de­vel­op­ment of the Bei­jing-Tian­jin-He­bei re­gion, have been or­dered to al­ways put the en­vi­ron­ment first and to ad­here to green de­vel­op­ment.

When plans for the area were un­veiled four months ago, one of the de­clared goals was to cre­ate a “nat­u­rally scenic city with blue skies, fresh air and clean wa­ter”.

Lo­cated about 100 kilo­me­ters south­west of down­town Bei­jing, Xion­gan spans Xiongx­ian, Rongcheng and Anxin coun­ties in He­bei province.

It also cov­ers Baiyang­dian Lake, a ma­jor wet­land that cov­ers 366 square kilo- me­ters and is be­lieved to be a key in im­prov­ing the area’s over­all en­vi­ron­ment.

But Baod­ing, in the new area, usu­ally is one of the 10 cities with the coun­try’s worst air qual­ity. Also, Baiyang­dian’s ecol­ogy has been dam­aged by years of pol­lu­tion from fish-rais­ing and in­dus­trial dis­charges.

To con­trol the pol­lu­tion, the three coun­ties have taken a se­ries of mea­sures.

Anxin, which cov­ers most of the lake, is fo­cus­ing on elim­i­nat­ing fish net cages, which pol­lute the wa­ter with fish fe­ces and left­over bait and have been in use for years.

The county also or­dered all il­le­gal gas sta­tions to be closed and de­mol­ished.

Rongcheng has barred vil­lages near Baiyang­dian from rais­ing live­stock, which would en­dan­ger the lake’s wa­ter qual­ity.

“All live­stock farms must be closed by the end of Oc­to­ber,” the county’s gov­ern­ment said in a state­ment.

The county also re­cently started a crackdown on fac­to­ries — mainly gar­ment fac­to­ries, dye­ing plants and pa­per mills — that il­le­gally dis­pose of waste­water.

Xiongx­ian will close all plas­tics fac­to­ries, print­ing and platemak­ing plants, and any fac­tory that dis­charges waste­water il­le­gally.

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