China's top environmental protection official has pledged to block
construction projects that fail to pass stringent environmental impact
Zhou Shengxian, director of the State Environmental Protection
Administration, said yesterday "environmental impact assessments will set the
standard and no development project which damages the environment will get
Zhou told a national meeting on management of environmental impact evaluation
in Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong Province, that environmentally damaging
activities were occurring nationwide.
"Some areas have disregarded the public's living environment and launched
development projects in a blind and chaotic way," Zhou said. "A number of
projects that have produced serious pollution and damaged the ecology have even
been cited as image projects."
Environmental degradation has become a problem in social and economic
development, he said.
He said properly conducted environmental impact assessments were the key to
change the appalling environmental situation in the country.
Zhou had asked environmental protection workers to be strict in examining and
approving construction projects, while maintaining efficiency, openness and
China has 68 organizations specializing in environmental impact assessments.
Environmental protection officials had evaluated 55,000 construction projects
in the last two years, and had denied approval of 1,190 projects, with
investments totaling 170 billion yuan (US$20.96 billion) for failing to meet
environmental protection standards.
He cited, as an example, 525 power projects, of which 32 were ordered to halt
construction after failing to meet standards.
Stringent assessments could help curb the overheated investment in fixed
assets and align construction supply more closely with demand, said Kuang
Yaoqiu, a fellow researcher with the Guangzhou-based Institute of Geochemistry.