Polluting regions summoned for talks

Updated: 2015-04-14 08:03

By Zheng Jinran in Beijing and Zhang Yu in Shijiazhuang(China Daily)

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Environmental watchdogs ask for effective action on cleanup

Government officials in six districts and cities in Hebei province have been summoned to talk about their pollution problems with the provincial and national environmental watchdogs.

Environmental authorities will press the governments during the talks to act stronger and quicker on pollution, but the watchdogs have limited power to guarantee implementation of the measures, environmental experts said.

The Ministry of Environmental Protection can urge the governments to perform their duties, but they do not have any power to order them, said Hu Jing, an associate professor of environmental law at the China University of Political Science and Law, adding that the results of the talks depend on the willingness of the governments to control the pollution.

"It's only a regulation of the ministry, without any legal force," Hu said.

Zhou Ke, a professor of environmental protection law at Renmin University of China, said that the governments are higher than the environmental protection bureaus, which sometimes restricts the efforts of the environmental bureaus, he explained.

"But the local governments are responsible to protect the environment as the new Environmental Protection Law stipulates," he said, though only a few have released supportive policies.

The Ministry of Environmental Protection said it talked with the Baoding city government recently asking it to control pollution surrounding the Baiyangdian natural reserve by the end of June.

The environmental protection bureau of Hebei province asked the cities of Xinji, Wu'an and Dingzhou, Cangxian county and Kaiping district in Tangshan to take effective measures on pollution and hand in results by the end of April, the bureau said.

The rivers running through Xinji have been heavily polluted by untreated sewage from leather processing plants, while the city environmental authority did not effectively control the pollution, stirring many complaints from the public.

Small companies that process waste rubber in some areas of Cangxian county in Cangzhou directly discharge sewage and pollutants into the air and water, the bureau said.

If these governments cannot provide effective cleanup, they will not receive their quota of new industrial projects, Yin Guangping, deputy head of the provincial environmental protection authority, said in an interview with China Central Television.

"Besides, the environmental situation has a larger influence on officials' promotions in Hebei, accounting for 20 percent of the annual performance review," he said.

Guizhou province has stipulated that punishments for officials accountable for pollution will range from apologies to the public to suspension from their positions.

Professors Hu and Zhou praised the efforts of the environmental authorities, but suggested the laws need more teeth.

Contact the writers at zhengjinran@chinadaily.com.cn and zhangyu@chinadaily.com.cn