2,200 officials in 3 provinces held accountable for lax environmental efforts
Insufficient implementation of pollution control efforts and deterioration in some regions due to over-exploitation of resources were found by top inspectors in Heilongjiang, Jiangsu and Henan provinces, according to inspection results released on Tuesday by the environmental protection authority.
More than 2,200 officials have been held accountable in the three provinces, where top-level inspections by the central government began in mid-July, according to the Ministry of Environmental Protection.
In the three provinces, central inspectors exposed more than 4,900 cases involving environmental pollution. The provincial governments completed their subsequent investigations, and 167 people were detained.
In Jiangsu, the provincial government has required more than 2,700 companies to improve their facilities for environmental protection, and polluting companies were fined more than 97.5 million yuan ($14.2 million).
The central inspectors also said the top leadership in the three provinces did not fully push forward measures to improve the environment.
In Zhengzhou, the capital of Henan, air quality has worsened since 2013, and the city was third from the bottom in air quality among the 74 major cities with pollution in the first half of this year, said Wang Wanbin, head of the inspection team for Henan.
Despite its poor environmental performance, the city was assessed as excellent last year for economic growth, which shows that the leadership lacks knowledge of the importance of environmental protection, according to the inspectors.
In Jiangsu province, inspectors also found high risk of contamination due to insufficient anti-pollution measures, noting that only 30 percent of the more than 6,300 chemical plants were located in industrial zones where the government has installed equipment to reduce pollution.
Harbin, the capital of Heilongjiang, was warned about its ineffective restrictions, after nine of its 16 coal-fired power plants discharged pollutants excessively for a long time, said Yang Song, head of the inspection team for Heilongjiang.
Within a month, the three provincial governments are to release their plans for correcting the problems.