By Hou Liqiang
Effort has helped transform industrial structure, addressed various problems
A senior environmental official has spoken highly of the role of central environmental inspection in promoting high quality development.
Zhai Qing, vice-minister of ecology and environment, said on Thursday the inspection had played a significant role in transforming the industrial structure by phasing out small polluters. He also noted the implementation of the central authority's philosophy of green development will be among things to check in a new round of the inspection that will be unveiled soon.
The new round, which will last for four years starting this year, will be extended to State-owned companies and central government bodies instead of only targeting local governments and companies as it did previously, Zhang said.
"The first group of inspectors have finished their preparation work and will embark on the inspection after the plan gets approved from the central authorities," he said, adding that the regions and institutions that will be covered will be made public.
Zhai said inspectors will check whether violations they found during the previous round are rectified as they conclude their task in 2022.
"The central environmental inspection has not only helped address a series of environmental and ecological problems but also has encouraged local governments to create new development concepts and has played a significant role in enhancing high quality development," Zhai said.
According to the Ministry of Ecology and Environment, during the first round of the central environmental inspection - which was conducted from the end of 2015 to 2018 - over 40,000 companies received penalties of nearly 2.5 billion yuan ($363.5 million) for environmental violations.
More than 150,000 environmental problems that affect people's lives were addressed, and 2,264 people were detained.
Zhai said the inspection, led by ministerial level officials, has proved to be effective in promoting the transformation of the industrial structure and the optimization of industrial distribution.
In the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, for example, the local government has forbidden the introduction of projects with high pollution, energy consumption and emissions.
The Inner Mongolia autonomous region has implemented a principle that balances the amount of water needed of industrial development and the amount of water it has. The overdevelopment of industries with high water consumption has been curbed, he said.
"We deeply feel that the awareness of ecological and environmental protection has been increasingly strengthened since the first round of the inspection," Zhai said.
The vice-minister also vowed to crack down on one-size-fits-all approaches used by some local governments as a way to cope with the inspection.
Such approaches not only damage the interests of companies that abide by the law and regulation but also tarnish the image of environmental protection work, he said. Zhai cited an instance in 2016 in which a county government shut down all companies with emissions to improve the reading of local air quality, including all small shops that make steamed buns.
"We resolutely oppose such approaches. They will be seriously investigated once found," Zhai said.