Of­fi­cials ‘in­ter­fered’ with air qual­ity data

The Myanmar Times - - World -

PO­LICE ar­rested of­fi­cials in charge of en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion in cen­tral China after they were ac­cused of tam­per­ing with air qual­ity mon­i­tor­ing data, lo­cal me­dia said.

“Staff mem­bers in­ter­fered with the mon­i­tor­ing sta­tion a num­ber of times, block­ing the equip­ment with a cot­ton thread, which dis­rupted the col­lec­tion of data,” the Huashang Bao news­pa­per said.

The “ab­nor­mal” read­ings, col­lected in the an­cient city of Xi’an, alerted the na­tional body for en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion, re­sult­ing in the open­ing of a po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tion, the news­pa­per added.

A num­ber of sus­pects were ar­rested, Huashang Bao said, in­clud­ing the head of the mon­i­tor­ing sta­tion, his deputy and the di­rec­tor of the en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion bureau in Chang’an, a dis­trict of Xi’an.

“It’s truly ter­ri­ble!” the Peo­ple’s Daily said. “It’s not by be­tray­ing their du­ties that the air qual­ity will im­prove.”

The acrid gray haze that reg­u­larly en­velops Chi­nese cities has be­come a ma­jor fo­cus of dis­con­tent in the coun­try. To try to con­tain the prob­lem, Bei­jing has im­posed air pol­lu­tion re­duc­tion tar­gets on lo­cal of­fi­cials, who are pun­ished if they are not reached.

The lat­est case “should serve as a warn­ing that the cen­tral gov­ern­ment is se­ri­ous about pun­ish­ing en­vi­ron­men­tal abuses”, cam­paign group Green­peace said. –

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