China's environmental chief has blamed fraudulent project approval procedures
and slow construction of pollution control facilities for the rise in pollutant
emission in the first half of the year.
plant on the outskirts of Zhangjiakou. More than 1,500 factories in
southern China had been closed down in the past three years due to the
pollution and environmental hazards they
Discharge of major pollutants in 17 provinces rose over the first six months,
despite the government's pledge to cut down emissions by two percent at the end
of the year, said Zhou Shengxian, director of China's State Environmental
The emission of sulphur dioxide had increased by 5.8 percent compared with
the same period last year.
"It is clear the conflict between economic growth and environmental
protection is coming to a head," Zhou said in an interview with Xinhua to
reiterate the government's vows to clamp down on pollution.
"Frauds in project approval were prominent, with many projects passing their
environmental assessment without fulfilling the necessary criteria," Zhou said,
adding that in some counties only 30 percent of the projects had been checked
for pollution control measures before getting construction licenses.
And nearly half of the firms, even though they passed proper environmental
appraisals, failed to carry out pollution control measures as required during
the construction process, Zhou added.
A government probe into the construction of projects with 100
million yuan (US$12.5 million) of investment in the first six months showed that
almost 40 percent of projects in eight provinces had violations in approval
procedure concerning pollution control, Zhou said.
"Monitoring new projects for pollution control and preventing approval frauds
will be the priority of environmental officials in the second half of this
year," he said.
Official figures revealed that investment in coal mining and processing rose
45.7 percent in the first six months.
As projects have expanded rapidly, the construction of facilities to reduce
emissions have lagged far behind, Zhou said, noting that almost half of the new
coal processing projects this year had failed to set up desulphurization
China discharged 25.49 million tons of sulphur dioxide in 2005, making it the
world's top emitter. Nearly 85 percent was industrial emission, coming mainly
from a large number of coal-burning projects.
The country has promised a ten percent reduction in total sulphur dioxide
emissions by 2010.
Zhou said government officials should work harder to meet the two percent
reduction goal, otherwise pollution would worsen and render environmental
protection measures in the future less effective.
"The responsibility of curtailing pollutant emission rests upon the shoulders
of the local governments," Zhou said, adding that the government will ensure
that officials who ignore environmental protection will "pay the price".
Zhou said the government is planning to release a list of figures on
pollutants discharged in the 17 provinces in the first half of the year to let
the public know which has the largest emissions.
Officials in 16 provincial governments and managers in six major power
companies have signed responsibility pledges with the central government to
reduce pollutant discharge.
"For governments that fail to fulfil the pledge, approval will be suspended
for new projects that might increase pollutant emission," Zhou said, adding that
his administration will sign more pledges with local governments in the near