China Raises Environmental Bar for Heavy Industry
BEIJING China is raising the environmental bar on the construction of heavily polluting factories and plants in a move that could bolster efforts to limit investment and cool the economy.
China has suffered severe environmental damage in recent decades as economic development has accelerated, but the government has since adopted a series of measures to cool the world's seventh largest economy, which grew 9.5 percent last year.
Steel, cement, aluminium, iron alloy, calcium carbide and coke-producing plants would undergo stricter environmental assessments before construction could begin, Xinhua news agency said in an overnight report.
The stricter policy also applied to projects already under way, Pan Yue, vice minister of the State Environmental Protection Administration, was quoted as saying.
"Projects that have been completed and put into operation illegally must upgrade their facilities in line with environmental protection regulations within a limited period of time, or they will be shut down," Pan said.
The administration in January ordered the suspension of construction at 30 major infrastructure projects, including three related to the Three Gorges Dam, the world's largest hydroelectric project, because they had not undergone environmental impact assessments.
"The environment has become a new way, in addition to things like interest rates, to cool down the economy if it is too hot," the China Daily quoted administration official Hu Tao as saying at the time.
The environmental watchdog halted construction of 139 projects involving billions of dollars in 2004, Xinhua said.