Tightened supervision intensifies China's pollution fight
February 20,2017 By:Xinhua
BEIJING, Feb. 20, 2017 -- Air quality in northern China improved Sunday thanks to a cold front. There is no let-up for local authorities, however, as the top environmental watchdog has launched a new round of air quality inspections.
The Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP) dispatched 18 teams to Beijing, Tianjin, Hebei, Henan, Shanxi and Shandong, for a one-month review of pollution control efforts.
After visiting 199 local government departments and companies in 18 targeted cities Friday, inspectors found 42 issues, including a lack of reporting by responsible units and district governments in Jinan, the provincial capital of Shandong, the MEP said Saturday.
The Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region is China's most heavily polluted area and prone to smog in winter.
Inspections have proved effective in pressing local governments and companies to meet their environmental protection obligations, especially since China's revised Environmental Protection Law, considered the strictest in history, took effect in January 2015.
"Central or provincial inspections have been designed to find out and solve urgent environmental problems," said Wang Ande, head of Shandong Provincial Environmental Protection Department.
"Inspectors help to solve problems," said the official, adding that the province still had room for improvement.
To prevent fake data, Shandong has recruited a third party to verify data from the province's automatic air quality monitoring stations.
One tenth of all coal consumption in China is in Shandong, making it first nationwide. In 2015, the province burned 400 million tonnes of coal.
Last year, Shandong issued 590 million yuan (86 million U.S. dollars) in fines for nearly 9,000 environment-related cases, up 75 percent and 28 percent, respectively, from 2015.
Beijing and Linfen, a city in coal-rich Shanxi, both recently established environmental police teams.
Beijing's environmental police have detained two suspects in connection to environmental crimes since the department's inauguration mid-January.
"We also work with the land, resource and water authorities to address illegal mining or misuse of farmland," said Pei Xudong, an official with the environmental police under Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau.