Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP) publicized results of the first round of governmental inspections in 28 cities around the area of Jing-Jin-Ji.
The public notification indicated that more than 2/3 enterprises in the inspected area have issues with protecting the environment more or less. Most frequent problems were illegal business operations, waste disposal facilities being absent or out of order. During the half-month time, the teams also met 11 incidents of refusing or hindering inspection.
In early April, 5600 staff were gathered in Beijing to form this inspection team. MEP also stated that inspection is going to last 1 year, with 25 rounds altogether.
It is regarded as a most large-scale movement from the government in decades in China, therefore gained much attention from the public. Speaking of government’s resolution towards pollution treatment, the new Environmental Protection Law of China is inescapable.
It came into effect from the beginning of 2015. It is widely known to be a most strict law in environment issues in China’s history. Improvements are from three aspects.
First, the new law set up public interest litigation system and made clear lawsuit qualifications, which enabled around 300 organizations qualified. Friends of Nature, who just failed in the case of Changzhou Toxic Land, is one of these organizations. They have put great emphasis on litigating in the past year since the new law came into effect.
Second, official departments of environmental protection were given more power including fining and detaining. This gave the departments more deterrent forces, more like a military rather than a civilian official, if put in ancient China.
Third, punishments became more rigorous. Fines would be much more than before, calculated on a daily basis.
A new law demonstrated the resolution of government to face directly at environmental pollution while in the meantime, experts and public alike worry how it is going to change the situation fundamentally.
“If you look at China’s air pollution or water pollution control laws,
they’re pretty good compared to global standards,” said Ma Tianjie,
program director for mainland work at Greenpeace East Asia. “But no
matter how good [the laws] look on paper, the true test will always be
the willingness of local authorities to enforce them.”
The inspection mentioned at the beginning, can be seen as an experimental action. It only focused on one issue in a restricted area, which is air pollution in 28 cities in Jing-Jin-Ji area. But it is good to start with a focus. The progress so far is satisfying, with powerful implementation of law and prompt and public reports. Next step would be to maintain the quality of inspection and to formulate solutions and improvements.
Let’s keep our eyes on how things go.