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North China city criticized for lax environmental efforts

Updated: Jan 19,2017 8:05 PM     Xinhua

BEIJING — China’s top environmental watchdog delivered verbal warnings to the mayor of a local government on Jan 19 to strengthen environmental protection efforts and promote greener growth.

The Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP) met and gave verbal warnings to Liu Yuqiang, mayor of Linfen City in north China’s Shanxi province, for lax environmental protection measures and worsening air quality.

The air quality in the city has been deteriorating for the second consecutive year and the city failed to deliver rectification plans on existing environmental protection problems spotted in past inspections, the ministry said in a statement.

A joint inspection team spearheaded by the MEP in May 2016 identified problems, including sloppy environmental efforts by coking enterprises in updating anti-pollution facilities, malfunction of dust elimination facilities at steel factories and small suburban firms that cause severe pollution, said the ministry.

The city did not follow through on agreed rectification plans, and some problems have become more worrying, noted the MEP.

The MEP pointed out that the city did not give the public timely alerts about deteriorating air quality this winter and failed to take effective measures to tackle air pollution.

The MEP also criticized the city for lax supervision efforts for illegal discharging of pollutants by some coking and steel businesses as well as on coal quality used by winter heaters.

The local authorities will produce rectification plans as soon as possible and curb environmental degradation through stepped-up environmental protection measures, said Liu.

Many Chinese cities have suffered from frequent winter smog and other environmental challenges in recent years, triggering public concern.

The authorities have stepped up efforts to cut outdated production capacity and have dispatched inspection teams to provincial regions to supervise environmental measures taken by industrial firms. The verbal warning mechanism began targeting local governments in 2014.