Business / Industries

Industrial city faces pollution control conundrum

(Xinhua) Updated: 2015-07-10 13:27

BEIJING -- China's Ministry of Environmental Protection has downplayed a controversy revolving around pollution control measures in an industrial city in eastern China, saying the forceful measures were legal and affordable to the local economy.

According to a report published by China Environment News, a newspaper run by the ministry, air quality at Linyi, a coastal city in east China's Shandong province, has improved greatly thanks to a series of measures since late last year, including suspending production at dozens of steel mills and other factories.

Though the measures have gained support among the public, they have also met opposition by some who say the steel sector, which employs more than 100,000 people locally, was badly scathed.

The report cited an inspection team from the ministry as saying that pollution control in the city was not "shock therapy," or a sudden change in economic policy, as alleged in a previous report by Southern Weekly. Rather, the measures are legitimate and valid as the suspended factories were given ample time to prepare.

Some steel mills were only suspended after they failed to rectify illegal waste discharge activities, it noted.

Instead of simply shutting down energy-intensive factories, the measures also helped transform the economic structure locally, it said, adding fiscal revenue and other financial indicators for the city had not changed significantly because of the factory closures.

The measures came after the ministry summoned the city's leaders in March, urging them to strengthen inspections and impose severe penalties on polluters. A new environmental law, which went into effect on Jan 1, also gives the environmental watchdog more power to manage GDP-obsessed officials.

The pollution control conundrum at Linyi revealed another challenge in China's war on pollution, in which local government leaders have to put up with more economic loss if they want to curb pollution.

The Linyi government has ordered 412 factories to rectify their practices, including 29 that will be relocated.

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