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Environment chief vows to add muscle
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08:22, March 25, 2008

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Giving environmental monitors and law enforcers more muscle will be the top priority for Zhou Shengxian, when he takes up his new position as minister of environmental protection.

Speaking at the 2008 National Environmental Law Enforcement Conference yesterday in Beijing, Zhou said setting up a law enforcement system of "iron and steel" was top of his agenda.

The meeting might have been the last under the State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA) banner, as the new ministry positions will be announced on Wednesday, Zhou said.

"The new ministry will have greater authority to crack down on environmental crime, and we will expand our enforcement and surveillance teams," he said.

Regular meetings, and joint enforcement, surveillance and information sharing systems will be set up not only among environmental protection departments of all levels, but also with law enforcement and judicial bodies, Zhou said.

Wei Fusheng, a member of the Chinese Academy of Engineering and a researcher with the Environmental Monitoring Center, said the lack of enough manpower is one of biggest problems hindering the country's environmental monitoring work.

"Staff spend most of their time and energy on monitoring environmental quality and the national key pollution sources," he said last week.

"But work relating to people's health has been neglected in recent years.

"In addition, because of a lack of personnel, standards and measures of monitoring have not been updated, and this has hindered the development of the country's environmental surveillance."

But Zhou said the ministry will not be slack in its efforts to combat pollution.

The agenda for this year includes a conference on pollution treatment in the Songhua River, and meetings to tackle pollution in the Huaihe River, agricultural pollution in Zhejiang province and industrial pollution in Shanghai.

Source: China Daily

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