China's environmental watchdog froze industrial development along parts of four filthy rivers to force a cleanup but indicated corruption may thwart the effort, news reports said Wednesday.
BEIJING -- China's environmental watchdog froze industrial development along parts of four filthy rivers to force a cleanup but indicated corruption may thwart the effort, news reports said Wednesday.
No new projects will be approved by the State Environmental Protection Agency in 13 locations along the Yangtze, Yellow, Huaihe and Haihe rivers, the agency's vice minister Pan Yue told the China Daily newspaper.
A total of 32 heavily polluting factories and six wastewater plants were ordered to clean up in three months so local development could resume, it said.
But Pan noted some local officials collude with big companies at the cost of the environment. Environmental inspectors have been stopped at factory gates, and some plants reopen even though the agency shut them down, the report said.
Pan said a quarter of the length of the country's seven main river systems are so polluted that even touching the water is harmful to skin, the China Youth Daily reported. Seven of the nine major lakes the agency monitors were equally toxic.
"This series of dark statistics shows that traditional industrial growth has pushed China's resources and environment to nearly intolerable limits," he said.
The move by SEPA comes as pollution allegedly from chemical plants forced the shut off of tap water to 200,000 people in Jiangsu province's Shuyang, the latest in a torrent of toxic emissions that have poisoned China's water, soil and air.
Pan told the China Daily an effective system is needed to hold government officials accountable for pollution.
"Suspending approval of new industrial projects is the toughest measure that SEPA can take, given its (limited) authority," Pan was quoted as saying.
Pan's agency suspended industrial development in Chaohu, Bengbu, Baiyin, Banyannur, Weinan and Zhoukou cities, Hejin and Xiangfen counties in Shanxi, and at industrial parks in Wuhu, Lanzhou, Handan, Puyang and Shenxian County.
Source: Associated Press