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Inspection safeguards environment

By HOU LIQIANG | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2022-07-07 09:56
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Erhai Lake in Dali, Yunnan province, boasts beautiful scenery that includes wetlands. MAO YANZHENG/FOR CHINA DAILY

Teams ensuring that infringements across country are addressed, rectified

The country's high-profile central environmental inspection has proved to be effective in addressing difficult-to-resolve issues and promoting high-quality growth, a senior environmental official said.

"It has helped address a large batch of outstanding environmental problems on the agenda that were unresolved for an extended period of time," Zhai Qing, vice-minister of ecology and environment, said at a news conference organized by the State Council Information Office on Wednesday.

The country has rolled out two rounds of the inspection since 2016. Its second round, which started in 2019, covered all provincial regions on the Chinese mainland in addition to six centrally administered State-owned enterprises and two government bodies-the National Energy Administration and the National Forestry and Grassland Administration.

Usually led by ministerial-level officials, inspection teams report to a central group headed by Vice-Premier Han Zheng. The office of the inspection is based in the ministry.

When the first round of inspection concluded in 2018, inspectors specified 3,294 major violations that needed rectification, he said. To date, 95 percent of the cases have been rectified.

The second round of inspection was conducted in six batches. Despite inspectors wrapping up their visits in the first three batches in the middle of 2021, rectification has now been completed for half of the 1,227 violations they had exposed, he said.

The vice-minister highlighted the restoration of the natural banks of the Yangtze River and the removal of over 1,000 illegally constructed buildings in the Qinling Mountains, which is home to giant pandas and many other rare wild animals.

A total of 457 kilometers of shoreline in the 11 provincial regions the Yangtze runs through, including Hubei province and Shanghai, have been restored, he said.

The inspection has seen many regions follow a green development path with ecological protection as the priority, he said, with the same regions endeavoring to balance economic, environmental and social gains.

The restoration of the banks of the Yangtze, for instance, not only helps conserve the environment and ecosystems, but also creates spaces for the development of high-quality industries, he added.

Adhering to a people-centered approach, the inspection has also seen the rectification of roughly 285,000 environmental violations that occurred on people's doorsteps, Zhai said.

This means, he added, the vast majority of violations the public reported to inspectors since the launch of the inspection have been addressed.

"The problems the public report have always been a priority in the inspection," he noted, adding the ministry has established a complete working mechanism to ensure their proper rectification.

He said it has been routine for teams to make public their contact information to accept public reports soon after they start their inspection.

All the reports are handled in accordance with the degree of urgency and complexity, he said. If immediate rectification is not possible, specific rectification plans and deadlines will be set.

Local authorities need to make public both the problems and the rectification results in local media outlets to ensure public oversight, he added. Inspectors will randomly call in whistleblowers or revisit the areas where the violations occurred to ensure timely rectification.

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