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Polluters reported punished in Tibet after central inspection team visit

Large-scale mineral resource extraction in one of the four open pit mines in the Gyama valley. (Photo courtesy: Tibetan Environment and Development Desk)
Large-scale mineral resource extraction in one of the four open pit mines in the Gyama valley. (Photo courtesy: Tibetan Environment and Development Desk)

(TibetanReview.net, Jan05, 2018) – Environmental destruction caused by rampant resource extraction and unbridled development activities remain a major target of exile Tibetan Tibetans’ criticism of Chinese rule in Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) while the top government leader there has always insisted that all projects in the region would be held to strict environmental protection standards. Now a national inspection team sent from Beijing has found that environmental protection work in the TAR did not meet the requirements of the central government and public and that many had been punished for it, according to an official Xinhua news agency report Jan 4.

The inspection team, sent under a one-month review programme for eight provincial-level regions in August, has said Jan 3 that as of Oct 31, the region had resolved 1,020 cases highlighted by it that a total of 882 companies and departments had been ordered to make improvements; and that 784 cases had been given punishments with fines totalling 27.9 million yuan (4.3 million U.S. dollars).

The report said the region had detained two people for environmental problems and held a total of 148 people accountable.

The report said the local government had failed to follow regional environmental protection regulations strictly, giving passes to seven counties that did not meet the requirements in 2016.

It also cited the team as saying in its report that construction of 242 rural road projects had been started since 2013 without acquiring environmental protection approval, and that the majority of scenic spots did not have sewage treatment facilities.

Inspectors were reported to have also found that efforts to increase tourism in some areas had harmed the environment. Examples were cited of illegal infrastructure built for visitors such as a viewing deck, parking area and toilets in the buffer region of the Nam Co Nature Reserve, and untreated sewage found to have been directly discharged inside the reserve.

An official China Daily report Jan 4 cited China’s Ministry of Environmental Protection as saying in Dec 2017 that the inspections from Aug to Sep had left 6,471 officials accountable for environmental damage.

The report said inspections were part of China’s campaign to fight pollution and environmental damage, as decades of growth have left the country with smog, polluted water and contaminated soil. The TAR was among eight provincial-level regions under a one-month review by inspection teams dispatched by central authorities in August.

The report said the TAR government was required to hand in a plan for solving the problems within 30 days to the State Council, China’s cabinet.

Citing data from the ministry, the report said that Central environment inspection teams had visited 31 provincial regions, with the TAR being among the final group of eight, exposing a total of 135,000 pollution problems and holding over 18,000 officials accountable.

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