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Greener growth focus required

China Daily | Updated: 2017-11-03 07:47

Greener growth focus required

Solar power projects, such as this one shaped like giant pandas in Datong, Shanxi province, are now a common sight. [Photo/VCG]

The Ministry of Environmental Protection recently dispatched 280 inspectors from other places to 28 cities in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region to check whether their key industries have carried out pollution treatment as required.

The practice of choosing non-local inspectors for this work is aimed at ensuring independent and objective enforcement of the environmental protection law.

In April, the top environment watchdog sent a team of 5,600 inspectors from elsewhere to the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region, which is blighted by severe air pollution, to monitor local environmental protection efforts. And at the end of August, 102 environment inspection teams were again dispatched to a number of cities in the region to oversee local governments and enterprises on environmental issues. Such third-party inspections, including the latest one, have ensured independent and objective assessment of the region's environmental conditions and local governments' implementation of the country's environmental protection standards and regulations.

The top leadership has made environmental protection a top priority in recent years. To strengthen environmental protection, the authorities have changed from the past practice of punishing just the polluting enterprises to punishing both the enterprises and decisionmakers who give a green light to polluting projects.

Also, it has been a common practice in the past for governments to demonstrate no motivation to investigate polluting enterprises that bring them economic gains. Sending non-local inspectors helps prevent any collusion between the local governments and enterprises and promotes separate environment law enforcement free from any administrative interventions.

China is determined to abandon the previous model of sacrificing the environment in exchange for economic development. The rounds of non-local environment inspections organized by the environment watchdog show the authorities' ever-intensifying efforts to advance environmental protection nationwide.

Local governments should completely give up a GDP-obsessed development approach and promote better and more efficient local governance rather than waiting for inspections that force them to act.

--SOUTHERN METROPOLIS DAILY

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