Environmentally damaging projects to be blocked, warns official
GUANGZHOU, May 26 (Xinhua) -- China's top environmental protection official has pledged to block construction projects that fail to pass stringent environmental impact assessments.
Zhou Shengxian, director of the State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA), said on Friday that "environmental impact assessments will set the standard and no development project which damages the environment will get approval."
Zhou told a national meeting on the management of environmental impact evaluation in Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong Province, that environmentally-damaging activities were occurring nationwide.
"Some areas have disregard the public's living environment and launched development projects in a blind and chaotic way," said Zhou. "A number of projects that have produced serious pollution and damaged the ecology have even been cited as image projects."
Environmental degradation continued and environmental problems had become a problem in China's social and economic development, he said.
He said properly conducted environmental impact assessments were the key to change the appalling situation in the country's environmental protection.
Zhou had asked environmental protection workers to be strict in examining and approving construction projects and to be stringent in inspections, while maintaining efficiency, openness and transparency.
China has 68 organizations specializing in environmental impact assessments.
Environmental protection officials had evaluated 55,000 construction projects in the last two years, and had denied approval for 1,190 projects, with investments totaling 170 billion yuan (20.96 billion U.S. dollars) for failing to meet environmental protection standards.
He cited, as an example, the 525 power projects evaluated, of which 32 were ordered to halt construction after failing to meet standards.
Stringent assessments could help curb the overheating investment in fixed assets and align construction supply more closely with demand, said Kuang Yaoqiu, a fellow researcher with the Guangzhou-based Institute of Geochemistry with the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS).The three environmental protection goals SEPA hopes to reach by 2010 are improvement in the quality of the environment in major regions and cities, environmental degradation brought under control, and a 10 percent decrease in the discharge of major pollutants