In fight against pollution

In fight against pollution, China expands power of green teams

Beijing, May 16 (IANS) Stepping up its fight against pollution and environmental degradation, China has empowered its central green teams to inspect all provinces in the country.

This is a major step because till now, only the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, China’s top anti-corruption body, had the power to send its probe teams to any of the country’s 33 provinces.

The environmental protection ministry will be China’s second national authority empowered to send inspection teams and hold discussions with provincial leaders, a newspaper reported.

“We need to set up a fundamental system to supervise environmental protection. But the central government inspection will help spur local authorities to devote more efforts to environmental protection,” Liu Changgen, head of the National Environmental Protection Inspection Office, was quoted as saying.

Liu said the decision was taken after a successful pilot project in Hebei, which accounts for 25 percent of China’s steel production and is among the top five most polluted provinces in the country.

Liu said the environment ministry has selected 120 people for this job and from them teams would be sent randomly to the targeted areas.

Such inspections will cover all provinces every two years.

Unbridled growth of industries has contributed to China’s economic rise, but it also led to pollution and environmental degradation.

Beijing is one of the world’s most polluted cities. According to a study in 2015, air pollution claims 1.6 million lives in China every year.

In March this year, President Xi Jinping said Chinese economy, which slowed down to a 25-year low of 6.9 percent, cannot recover at the expense of the environment.

In 2015, China issed 97,000 administrative orders, shut down 20,000 polluting plants and recovered $654 billion in fines — an increase of 34 percent over 2014.

Besides, 34,000 plants had to halt production for not complying with environmental rules, the government said in a report.

In the same year, 1.77 million enterprises were inspected and 191,000 companies were investigated for flouting environmental laws.

Approval for projects in 20 cities and counties of China were also suspended.

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