Teams target issues affecting people's lives, report trouble in Jiangxi, Liaoning
China's high-profile, people-oriented environmental inspection teams launched earlier this month have been listening to complaints from the public to shed light on environmental violations that have an impact on society, according to the Ministry of Ecology and Environment.
It has only been about 20 days since the teams arrived in places including Liaoning, Anhui and Jiangxi provinces. As of Wednesday, the teams have exposed 24 violations, including some involving water and air pollution, as well as illegal launches of high-carbon producing projects.
The teams are especially concerned with violations that affect people's lives, the ministry said.
In a news conference on Wednesday, ministry spokesman Liu Youbin also stressed the people-centered philosophy as a working principle in the inspections.
"Though their work is still being carried out, inspectors have urged local governments to effectively rectify violations in an orderly manner," he said.
"We want to win trust from the people with actual rectification results and enable them to feel increasingly more satisfied, happy and secure."
Authorities in Xinyu, Jiangxi, for example, were blamed for failing to address "pressing problems of keen concern to the people" in its mining sector.
During their visit to Jiangxi in 2018, inspectors found that some stone pits in the province had not taken dust control measures. In screening work conducted by the Jiangxi Natural Resources Department thereafter, officials reported 111 violations in 62 open mining pits in Xinyu, according to a ministry release.
During recent random visits to 10 pits, inspectors found none of the pits had their violations adequately resolved, despite the Xinyu government claiming they had rectified the problems in all of them. Three were found to have no facilities for dust control at all, the team said.
The local governments of Xinyu's Yushui district and Fenyi county "performed their duties in a halfhearted manner" while promoting rectification as required.
"They also casually ignored environmental problems in the vicinity of the public," it said.
Launched in 2016, the central environmental inspection's teams are usually led by ministry-level officials. Inspectors report to a central leading group headed by Vice-Premier Han Zheng, who is also a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee.
The managing authority of the Shenyang Chemical Industrial Park in Shenyang, Liaoning's provincial capital, was also blamed for failing to address environmental violations that have long been the subject of public complaints.
The park has discharged an average of 17,000 metric tons of waste water every day since 2016, "far beyond the capacity of its sewage treatment plants", another release said.
The administration of the industrial park has taken no measures at all to expand the capacity of the plants, the release said. "Untreated, a large amount of waste water was discharged in a disorderly manner," the release noted.
It also said the managing authority failed to address the foul smell generated in the park amid exacerbating air pollution, which inspectors had reported when they visited the area in 2017. Following evidence from recent public complaints, inspectors still found a "pungent odor" in several locations.
"Dereliction of duty" in relevant government bodies' supervision was to blame for the lingering violations, it concluded.
The violations, which were found shortly after inspectors arrived, show that some local governments have relaxed environmental protection efforts amid the economic downturn caused by COVID-19, said Chang Jiwen, deputy director of the Research Institute for Resources and Environment Policies, which is part of the Development Research Center of the State Council.
The exposure has also demonstrated inspectors' clear stand in pointing out any problems that emerge as the country aims to stay on the path to high-quality development, he told China Central Television, adding the teams' determination to unearth violations will help local governments get back on that path.