Tian­jin slammed for pol­lu­tion coverup

Long-term sur­veil­lance sys­tem needed to su­per­vise govt work: ex­pert

Global Times US Edition - - CHINA - By Zhao Yusha

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.

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