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Hebei makes officials responsible for curbing pollution

By Zheng Jinran in Shijiazhuang | China Daily | Updated: 2014-01-07 07:36

Hebei said it is fighting air pollution by pushing government officials to fulfill their duties and expanding its supervision of polluters to all villages in the province.

The province's disciplinary watchdog said on Monday that 201 officials have been investigated for 40 environmental pollution cases last year. Among them, 25 were county heads or government department leaders.

The officials were given administrative punishments, including being removed from their positions, said the Communist Party of China Hebei Provincial Commission for Discipline Inspection.

On Monday, the commission made public 10 of the cases and the punishments given to the government officials.

More will be disclosed in the future, said Ding Wanming, the commission's deputy director.

A detailed document stipulating government officials' responsibilities in curbing air pollution will be released in the following weeks, Ding said, adding that the document is expected to force local officials to try their best to fight against pollution or they will be held accountable.

According to Ding, more than 1,000 small, illegal companies producing paper and lime and electroplating factories were involved in the 40 cases and are the major polluters.

Zhao Jun, director of the Environmental Supervision Bureau of Hebei, said: "Many small, polluting companies have restarted production illegally, of which some operated at night to avoid the authority's supervision."

These small companies usually had fewer investment and facilities, making restarting production easy, he added.

A team of the bureau conducted a thorough inspection in late December on more than 300 companies, which had been caught polluting the air during inspections in October and November. They found that 90 of them were still emitting pollutants.

In addition, the bureau supervises 33,000 production companies across the province that are registered as emitting pollutants during production.

Hebei, in which seven cities often make the list of cities with the worst air quality, has decided to strengthen supervision by including every village since Jan 1.

"About 90 percent of the small companies are scattered in the villages and townships, which is why it's important to spread supervision to all villages," Zhang said.

Now village committees and township governments have the power to deal with polluting companies. In the past, they had to wait for county governments to take action.

About 10,300 volunteers also joined the fight against pollution in November, by helping the authority locate polluting companies. They will be awarded if their reports are confirmed.

Hu Ming, deputy director of the provincial environmental supervision bureau, said that thanks to the volunteers, reported pollution cases have increased 30 percent in the past three months compared with the same period in 2012.


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