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Guangdong to punish officials who fail to control polluters

(Global Times)

15:51, May 13, 2013

A new system to punish officials in Guangdong Province who fail to control pollution has been criticized for only seeking to address what officials should be doing on a daily basis.

The province said Thursday it will target its resources this year on controlling air and water pollution in particular.

The provincial departments of environmental protection and supervision released a list of 38 enterprises that are below standard this year.

The list includes Fuying Leather Company, a tannery in Maoming, which was caught releasing water contaminated with chemicals including sulfides and ammonium nitrogen into a river as long ago as 2003.

The polluters have at most 36 months to rectify their behavior. Every three months, reports must be submitted to the supervisory agencies, which will conduct routine and random checks.

The results will be given to the local governments.

If the enterprises are still in breach of regulations, the responsible officials may be punished in accordance with Party discipline and criminal sanctions if in breach of the law, said the Ministry of Supervision.

But Xia Jun, a lawyer with the Environment and Resources Law Committee of the All China Lawyers Association, said he sees nothing new in the system. "I believe that accountability has long been a part of the duty of local governments. This system is not advanced at all, because they should have been doing this all along."

Ma Jun, director of the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs, thinks the system might have a positive effect.

"There should be an open platform for public monitoring of the pollution data. This will make it easier for strict enforcement of law," he noted.

However, both Ma and Xia pointed out tha t polluters often just pay any fines imposed, but do little to rectify the problem.

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