Building three regional supervision centres, adding supervisory staff and improving a public tip mechanism are three ways China plans to build a more complete environmental protection enforcement system in the next five years.
The regional centres will be built in the northwest, northeast and southwest regions, the State Environment Protection Administration (SEPA) announced recently.
Along with centres in Nanjing and Guangzhou that were built in 2002, these new centres will help solve serious environmental problems involving many provinces in the regions, said Zhang Lijun, SEPA deputy director.
These new centres will mainly focus on environmental issues involving more than one province or autonomous region, Zhang said.
SEPA intends to utilize the centres to tackle regional problems locally and more efficiently.
Mounting environmental problems have become part of the growing pains that accompany the country's fast economic development. China's top leaders have called for a halt to the production mode of "developing at the cost of the environment."
Cross-regional frictions concerning environmental problems are also considered a headache, with downstream residents blaming upstream residents for contaminating their water source.
The Songhua River pollution, triggered by a chemical plant explosion last November in Jilin Province, was a prime example.
An environmental accident has taken place every other day, on average, in China since that spill, Zhou Shengxian, head of SEPA, said during a national environmental conference last month in Beijing.
In a January seminar in Harbin, capital of Heilongjiang Province and a city downriver of the Songhuajiang spill, the Asian Development Bank's chief China representative, Toru Shibuichi, said that if a regional emergency co-ordination centre had been set up immediately after the blast, the resulting issues would have been handled faster and more efficiently.
Zhang said that a three-tier environmental supervision system on the national, provincial and city levels would be set up to monitor and supervise 65 per cent of major pollution makers in the country by 2010.
Ninety per cent of the cities in the country will have environmental tip lines, and 60 per cent of the cities will have their own response teams, Zhang said. The number of supervision employees nationwide will reach 80,000.
(China Daily 05/05/2006 page1)