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Local govt's empty promises expose a state of affairs that has to be cleaned up

China Daily | Updated: 2018-09-06 07:48

Responding to complaints by local residents, an inspection team of the State Council, China's Cabinet, found large amounts of household rubbish had been dumped in the Mazhong River in Babao town of Kaiyuan city, Northeast China's Liaoning province. They also discovered a factory making plastic products and a local papermaking industrial park was discharging waste water into the river. China Youth Daily comments:

Ironically, the industrial waste water flows through a sewage treatment works built specifically for local industries in 2015. But this has obviously not functioned for a long time.

The Mazhong River is a branch of Liaohe River, the seventh longest river in China, and more than 30 million people live in the drainage basin of the Liaohe River. The water pollution has already caused a shortage of drinking water downstream.

In fact, the central authorities took note of the environmental crisis in the town more than one year ago and had instructed local governments to act promptly to stop polluting and clean up the environment. In response, the local officials solemnly promised to take concrete and strict measures to solve the environmental issues as soon as possible.

But the latest inspection has driven home the message that the local officials' words were simply empty promises made to appease their superiors.

Now is the time for the central authorities to initiate investigations into both the environmental pollution and local governments' malpractice according to law, as the worsening pollution over the past year has not only posed a threat to public health, but also exposed local officials' audacity in defying the central authorities' instructions, and their indifference to people's well-being.

It is rare to see officials daring to sail against the wind to such an extent, and it is hard to believe their connivance with the polluters simply stems from the need to boost local economic growth.

The case also lays bare that the county, city and provincial environmental watchdogs in Liaoning have all failed to do their duty.

How well a local government effectively implements the relevant national laws and regulations and the central government's policies will determine the quality of environmental governance.

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