China Environmental News Digest

Daily updated Environmental news related to China

Friday, April 14, 2006

Let watchdog do its work

2006-04-14 Via China Daily

Qu Geping, former director of the State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA), admitted on Wednesday that some of the country's environmental protection targets have never been met in the past 25 years.

Authorities from the SEPA revealed on the same day that some of the goals for the 10th Five-Year Plan (2000-05) have not been achieved, either.

Both pieces of news send a message that there have been difficulties in carrying out measures by environmental watchdogs at various levels to achieve the set targets.

Further news from the SEPA that environmental watchdog offices for large regions will be established confirms this message.

Such offices for large regions, according to the SEPA, will be directly under the auspices of the SEPA and their workers will be directly dispatched by the SEPA as well.

This move will hopefully help resist interference from local governments with the implementation of environmental protection rules or measures, according to the SEPA.

Environmental protection administrations at local levels are under the leadership of local governments. As a result, how their role of watchdog is played, to a large extent, depends on whether local governments support their work or not.

Environmental protection law stipulates that any project that may cause pollution must be subject to environmental impact assessment by relevant departments. Yet, many pollution cases involving discharge or emission of pollutants from industrial enterprises suggest that such procedures have not been carried out, at least to the letter, in many localities.

How could the construction of these polluting plants get the green light from local governments? How did the local environmental watchdog play their role of assessing the environmental impact?

If the local environmental watchdog was able to function in an effective manner, these plants would not have been there.

What prevents the local environmental watchdogs from functioning as they are entitled to is interference from local government authorities, who always place economic benefits before consideration for the environment when the two are in conflict.

We hope the new move by the SEPA will change this embarrassing situation.

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