China / Environment

Structure reshuffled to benefit environment

By ZHENG JINRAN (China Daily) Updated: 2016-09-23 10:19

Provinces to monitor lower level authorities, freeing cities, counties to focus on polluters

The central government launched a road map to guide a fundamental reform of environmental protection authorities' management structure to increase their efficiency and independence at the city and county levels.

Twelve provinces have started the pilot projects of the new management structure, and it will expand to cover the whole country by 2020, according to the plan released on Thursday. Currently, city and county environmental protection authorities are part of and are supervised by local governments.

In the new management structure, a city environmental protection authority will be supervised by the provincial as well as the city government. The county authority will become the enforcement branch of the city environmental authority.

The provincial authority will take over the monitoring work from city and county authorities and assess city and county environmental protection authorities' work performance.

It is expected that data on a city's or county's environment will be more accurate because their governments will not be able to interfere.

The county-level environmental protection authority will also be able to focus on inspecting local polluters because they won't need to provide monitoring service.

The reform road map stipulates the responsibilities and tasks of environmental protection authorities at the three levels, highlighting their major tasks, according to Wu Shunze, deputy head of the Ministry of Environmental Protection's reform office.

"Under the current management structure, it's hard to supervise city and county governments' responsibilities in protecting the environment. It is also hard to block interference from local governments in the work of environmental protection authorities," Wu said on Thursday.

The new management system can also better coordinate efforts in dealing with cross-regional pollution, he said.

Wu spoke of the importance of reform, saying the top-down management system from provincial to county-level environmental protection authorities would help the authorities to work efficiently and independently.

"We will try to help the pilot provinces to finish the pilot reform by June 2017, and conduct self-assessments," said Wu. "Then, the remaining provinces will join in the pilot reform by June 2018, making all the provinces work under the top-down management system by 2020."

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