Minister: China needs more power to hit polluters

Minister: China needs more power to hit polluters

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China’s environment minister has warned the country needs more powers to crack down on polluting companies and local governments that protect them.

Beijing has identified pollution as a top priority as it tries to reverse the damage done by decades of unrestrained growth.

china-pollution-factoriesReuters Newsagency reports but the Ministry of Environmental Protection has long struggled to impose its will on growth-obsessed local authorities and polluting state-owned firms.

A revised environmental protection law came into effect at the start of last year with the aim of strengthening inspectors’ powers and increasing the range of punishments for lawbreakers.

China has also set up hundreds of independent environmental monitoring stations nationwide.

China-Environment-Minister-Dr-Chen-Jining-environmental-scientist-president-China-Tsinghua-UniversityHowever, environment minister Dr Chen Jining has told reporters that the new law still needs more teeth, with too many companies still behaving illegally and local governments still hampering enforcement efforts.

“Companies are under pressure and local governments are under pressure, but there is still a long way to go before every enterprise obeys the law,” he said.

China-Beijing-smog-masksHe said not enough pressure was being put on local governments to implement environmental policies, and there was not enough cooperation between government departments.

Mr Chen said as many as 191,000 firms were found to be violating environmental regulations last year, 20,000 of which were shut down and 34,000 forced to suspend operations until they complied.

Offending businesses were forced to pay US$87.32 million in fines over the year.

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