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22 of 30 problem projects stop operating
By Qin Chuan (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-01-24 23:52

Construction on most of the projects that were ordered to halt work by environmental authorities last week have stopped operations, according to State Environmental Protection Administration officials.

Last Tuesday, the administration announced that 30 large projects across the country had begun construction before their environmental impact assessment reports were approved by the administration, and should cease building.

Most of the projects, involving billions of US dollars and in 13 provinces and municipalities, are related to electricity-generation.

Vice-Minister of the administration Pan Yue said in a statement yesterday that 22 of the projects have stopped construction.

An administration source said yesterday each of the 22 have paid a fine of 200,000 yuan (US$24,000), the maximum fine required by the Law on Environmental Impact Assessment.

The Taicang Port power-generating company, in Taicang, East China's Jiangsu Province, is one of the 22.

The company was accused of building its fourth enlargement project without having its environmental impact assessment report approved.

"Last Tuesday, we stopped construction immediately," Su, a company staffer, said by telephone yesterday.

Su said the company will wait until its report gets approval of the administration before resuming work.

According to Pan's statement, many provincial and municipal governments attached great importance to the administration's announcement.

The statement said the two top officials of Jiangsu, Party Secretary Li Yuanchao and Governor Liang Baohua, gave orders that seven listed projects in the province stop construction.

They also asked all companies in the province to learn lessons from the seven and bear in mind environmental protection.

But still, there are several projects that have shown no sign of accepting the administration's punishment, an administration source said.

Pan said in the statement that enforcement of the law will continue to be strengthened and the public will be informed in time.

Hu Tao, chief economist of the Policy Research Centre for Environment and Economy at the administration, said the move will force companies to pay more attention to their environmental management.

The number of environmental laws in China matches that in other countries, but the enforcement of laws is far from satisfactory, he said.

With this latest move, companies may feel that "the law (on environmental impact assessment) now is getting tough" 1 1/2 years after it took effect, he said.

He said the move also has its social and economic background. The environment has become a new way, in addition to things like interest rates, to cool down the economy if it is too hot, he said.

In another development, late last week, 56 non-governmental environmental protection organizations issued a statement of support for the administration.

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