Tianjin slammed for pollution coverup
Long-term surveillance system needed to supervise govt work: expert
China’s environmental authorities have accused the Tianjin municipal government of “wantonly covering up” the city’s failed efforts in dealing with its increasing air and water pollution.
“Although Tianjin held meetings and publicity campaigns … it was more lip service than action,” read a statement released on the website of the Ministry of Environmental Protection on Saturday.
An inspection team sent by the ministry to examine the environmental protection work in Tianjin from April 28 to May 28 concluded in the statement that officials in Tianjin, which has a population of 15.5 million, of “obviously failing people’s expectations and leaving many acute environmental problems unsolved.”
Air quality in Tianjin has worsened in recent years, the inspection team found. Density of PM 2.5 particles increased 27.5 percent in the first quarter of 2017, compared with the same period last year, the team found.
In addition, the team said that some district governments in Tianjin had attempted to “fool inspectors” by intentionally covering up environmental hazards.
For instance, government of Tianjin’s Ninghe district blocked drain outlets of some pollution sources and built temporary water-retaining walls to cover up the district’s lack of proper sewage treatment.
The inspection team also found that Tianjin’s water pollution has worsened, with only 15 percent of the city’s surface water reaching State standards.
Some local governments usually prioritize the cities’ economic performance over environmental protection, as the former has a direct impact on their work performance, Ma Jun, director of the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs, told the Global Times on Sunday.
Apart from Tianjin, East China’s Anhui Province has also been criticized for failed effort in treatment of sewage water, protection of preserved wetland, disposal of domestic waste and air pollution.
Inspectors called on the cities to prioritize pollution control, and asked the two places hand in their rectification plan to the State Council within 30 days, and make their plans public.
The Tianjin environmental protection bureau has vowed to speed up the treatment of sewage pits last week, and also to properly rectify the newly found 54 sewage pits by the end of this year.
Ma said that the central government has been strengthening efforts on environmental protection, including frequent dispatches of inspection teams to examine the local governments’ work and increased penalties for the relevant officials.
He also suggested a more effective way to build a long-term surveillance system and ask the local governments to fully publish their work on environmental protection.
“The inspection teams come and leave, but the people live there so they are the best medium to evaluate and supervise the government’s work,” said Ma.