Officials ‘interfered’ with air quality data
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. –