Big polluters face strict monitoring

(China Daily)
Updated: 2007-05-11 06:39

Confronted with a growing volume of industrial waste and deteriorating water and air quality, the top environment watchdog is setting up an extensive automated network to conduct real-time monitoring of the countries' most notorious polluters.

Zhou Shengxian, minister of the State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA), announced that the country is launching an automated system that by the end of next year would closely monitor key polluters, who account for 65 percent of the country's industrial waste.

Environment agencies and activists have complained that after being inspected by SEPA officials, many industrial plants simply turn off their expensive sewage disposal facilities and resume dumping waste directly into rivers.

As a result, many rivers have started to turn black, and fish populations are in rapid decline.

Zhou said the SEPA's new nationwide real-time monitoring network is aimed at preventing such disregard for government policies. The network will also monitor the activities of urban sewage-disposal plants.

To ensure the new network is effective, the government has also created an assessment system to guarantee that organisations and local officials that ignore their responsibility to control pollution will be properly dealt with.

The government has set a goal of slashing emissions of major pollutants by 10 percent during its 11th Five-Year Plan period (2006-2010), but it recently admitted that it had failed to meet its goal last year of a 2 percent reduction.

A recent SEPA report revealed that last year sulphur dioxide emissions increased by 463,000 tons in China, 1.8 percent more than the previous year. The chemical oxygen demand (COD), a water pollution index, reached 14.31 million tons, a 1.2 percent rise over 2005.

The authorities would like to reduce sulphur dioxide emissions by 3.2 million tons and the COD by 1.23 million tons.

"We are optimistic we can meet the target by taking a series of concrete measures," Zhou said.

Premier Wen Jiabao plans to lead a taskforce to ensure that government targets are met and that the deterioration of the country's resources is brought to a halt.

Analysts say the premier's unprecedented step will keep local government officials who are more interested in economic growth than environmental protection in line.

Zhou also said plans are in the pipeline for assessments of local government efforts to control pollution. Officials that fail to meet pollution-control targets will be punished by cuts in financial support from the central government. Local officials' promotion prospects will also be judged by their efforts to reduce pollution.

"Environment indices will be publicized for public supervision, " said Zhou. "Those who fabricate them will be dealt with appropriately."

China Daily-Xinhua

(China Daily 05/11/2007 page4)

Top China News  
Today's Top News  
Most Commented/Read Stories in 48 Hours