China's environmental watchdog has taken three cities, one county and one industrial zone off its blacklist as these places have passed environmental reassessment.
The State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA) said in a notice on Sunday that the five areas have met the "essential requirements" of environmental protection after "earnest overhaul."
The areas which was the first batch removed from the list include Bayan Nur in Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, Zhoukou city in Henan Province, Weinan city in Shaanxi Province, Xiangfen county in Shanxi Province, and the industrial zone in Wuhu city of Anhui Province.
The SEPA's vice director Pan Yue said the administration will "strengthen inspection and supervision over these areas and constantly conduct on-the-spot check to see whether the companies have lived up to their word on environmental protection and to guard against a rebound."
Eight other places were still on the SEPA's blacklist as they failed to meet the requirements for environmental protection.
A recent spate of water pollution incidents has prompted China's environmental watchdog to launch its latest campaign to try and persuade local authorities in areas along the country's four major rivers to prioritize environmental protection above economic gain.
Local authorities in six cities, two counties and five industrial zones - all in the vicinity of the Yellow River, the Yangtze River, the Huaihe River and the Haihe River - were blacklisted by the SEPA in early July.
Nationwide monitoring results showed that water running through these cities and counties was "heavily polluted" during the first four months of this year.
They were told to immediately suspend construction projects that have not gone through environmental assessments and were only given three months to fix their "environmental problems."
The SEPA also asked polluters affecting the rivers to remove sewage exits to drinking-water reservoirs and make sure sewage disposal facilities are in good working order.
A total of 1,162 companies and projects have been dealt with since the launch of the national campaign in July.
And 400 out of the 1,162 companies and projects have been closed down, 249 have been suspended production and 102 were ordered to make overhaul in a fixed period of time. Altogether 725 million yuan (96.67 million U.S. dollars) of sewage discharge fees were recovered, according to the notice.
However, Pan Yue said the campaign is just a special administrative measure to curb pollution, and it is far from enough just to close some projects.
"A comprehensive environmental protection system including environmental assessment and economic policies should be established" to limit the development of industries with high energy consumption and high pollution, he said.