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Top officials to head pollution inspections

By ZHENG JINRAN | | Updated: 2017-02-15 05:05

Five leading officials from the Ministry of Environmental Protection will head inspection teams sent to Beijing, Tianjin and the provinces of Hebei, Shanxi and Shandong to control air pollution.

Starting on Wednesday, inspections of the regions will be conducted over the period of a month.

Minister of Environmental Protection Chen Jining and four deputy ministers will participate in the monthlong environmental inspection program "to urge policymakers in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region and neighboring provinces to fulfill their duty of tackling air pollution, and to ensure the quality of inspections", according to a statement issued by the ministry.

Several bouts of smog have engulfed the regions this year. Most recently, more than 20 cities, including Beijing, have been covered with haze since Sunday.

The smog will peak on Wednesday and be dispersed on Thursday by the arrival of a cold front, according to the China National Environmental Monitoring Center.

The ministry inspectors will work in conjunction with provincial and city-level peers, divided into 18 teams and involving more than 260 inspectors, the ministry said, adding that the inspections will involve field surveys and discussions with relevant departments.

The ministry said inspectors would review each region's performance and the results of such controls, adding that "the governments will be the major inspection targets, but companies will be inspected as well".

"Any violations by governments involving insufficient efforts or air quality deterioration will result in severe punishments such as the banning of project approvals in these regions," the ministry said.

The governments have taken a series of measures to hit targets for reducing air pollution. For example, Beijing built a new public security detachment on Jan 18 to target environmental contamination crimes, the municipal environmental watchdog said.

Pei Xudong, head of the new detachment, said the inspections will deter polluters and also are cooperating with environmental authorities in investigating pollution cases. "The detachment will provide strong support for the environmental protection campaign in the capital."

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