Chinese Ministry Alleges Local Authorities Helped Firms Flout Pollution Norms

Chinese local authorities have been found helping various companies break waste dumping rules according to China's environment ministry

China, which has been under the dark cloud with rise in emissions found itself embroiled with another scandal related to pollution where China’s environment ministry has alleged that local governments helped companies cover up illegal dumping, the Nature reported.

In China, local governments have helped companies flout pollution norms by faking reports and hiding illegal waste, according to a central environment ministry report.

Investigations, conducted last year as part of the country’s crackdown against pollution, discovered thousands of regulatory violations across 10 provinces.

For example, Artificial-diamond manufacturers from Anhui province allegedly dumped waste water and hazardous solid waste. However, subsequent investigations found them to be compliant with regulations as government officials alerted them of the impending investigations. They concealed the waste, forged waste-disposal contracts and flushed out a ditch contaminated with wastewater and even temporarily suspended production, said the ministry in the report released on May 16.

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The report found that local governments routinely forged documents. Officials in Guizhou province were found to fabricate notes for at least 10 meetings that never took place.

However, it also says that all 10 provinces have since made progress in cleaning up environmental messes, which the ministry called as “positive results”. The report said Shanxi province fined polluters about 24 million yuan ($3.5 million) while Hunan province ordered 4,326 companies to change their practices and handed out 80 million yuan in fines.

Chinese President Xi Jinping had last year called for efforts to fight pollution. The country also publicly accused major state enterprises for breaching pollution limit and monitoring standards, according to media reports.

In addition, about 40 to 60 per cent of the global rise in the prohibited refrigerant trichlorofluoromethane (CFC-11) since 2013 could be attributed to the industrial northern provinces of Shandong and Hebei, researchers from Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation and England’s University of Bristol have added.

A recent study by researchers at Chinese Hong Kong University found that air pollution in China caused an average of 1.1 million premature deaths each year and costs its economy $38 billion.

With inputs from various agencies

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