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Severe pollution leads to discipline

By Zheng Jinran | China Daily | Updated: 2017-07-21 09:17

Some leading officials in Gansu province, from the provincial to the county level, have been held accountable for severe pollution and damage in the Qilian Mountain National Natural Reserve, the central government said on Thursday.

A statement issued by the general offices of the State Council and CPC Central Committee said other governments should consider the action a lesson to make environmental protection a priority and fully implement related measures.

A special inspection headed by the central government from Feb 12 to March 3 found long-existing pollution problems and damage in the Qilian Mountain National Natural Reserve had not been solved. The reserve dates from 1988.

Mining and exploitation activities inside the reserve destroyed the vegetation cover and eroded the soil. Fourteen mines were allowed to keep working after the central government banned the practice in 2014, the statement said.

Forty-two hydropower stations were operating in the reserve without necessary documents, and the excessive exploitation dried up some rivers.

Inspectors found some nearby companies discharged toxins excessively, severely polluting the reserve.

The central government said the severe pollution and damage were mainly caused by the poor performance of the province and city and county governments.

"The leadership did not give environmental protection sufficient attention. Then they did not make every effort to implement instructions from the central government," the statement said.

Yang Zixing, deputy governor, was given a severe warning within the Party. As a leading official in charge of environmental protection in the reserve, Yang failed to control illegal mining and other harmful activities.

Li Rongcan, Party chief of Lanzhou, the capital of Gansu, and Luo Xiaohu, who was executive deputy governor during the inspection, received serious criticism and were summoned to have talks with disciplinary authorities. They were also ordered to make self-criticisms at meetings of the province's leading officials. Another eight senior officials also received punishments including dismissal and stern warnings.

To prevent similar problems elsewhere, seven ministries including the environmental protection and water resources ministries have jointly launched an inspection of all 446 national-level natural reserves since mid-July to last until year's end.

Inspectors will check human activities, especially mining, and encourage the public to take part in the supervision, according to a document from the Ministry of Environmental Protection.

Inspection results will be handed to the central government by the end of December and released to the public.

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