The fifth inspection team of the Central Government launched environmental inspection on Chongqing from Nov. 24 to Dec. 24, in an effort to implement the major decisions and deployments of the CPC Central Committee and the State Council. The team gave feedback to the municipal government at a meeting that was chaired by the Mayor Zhang Guoqing on Apr. 12. The Leader of the inspection team Zhang Baoshun delivered the inspection results, and Secretary of the municipal Party committee Sun Zhengcai made remarks in response. Deputy Leader Zhai Qing, other inspectors concerned, the leadership of the municipal Party committee and municipal government, as well as heads of relevant departments attended the meeting.
The inspection team held that since the year 2013, the Chongqing municipal Party committee and municipal government have learnt and practiced the guidelines of the important statements of General Secretary Xi Jinping, put ecological development and environmental protection on a more important position, pursued green development, and constantly improved local environmental quality in spite that the local GDP has grown at a rate topping the country for 11 quarters.
Chongqing has introduced development initiatives for five major functional areas, promulgated local document on accelerating the promotion of ecological progress, and worked out regulations on environmental protection responsibilities, measures on environmental inspection, and detailed rules for accountability of leading Party and government officials for ecological damages. Also, it has made greater efforts to enable the local Party committees and governments to be equally responsible for environmental protection and implement the “one position with dual responsibilities” system and the lifelong accountability system. It has taken the lead in making the environmental protection organizations available to all towns and townships and carrying out the reform for a vertical management framework for environmental monitoring, inspection, and enforcement.
The city has attached great importance to the protection of the Yangtze River, put the protection and restoration of the ecological environment in the Yangtze River at an overarching position, and intensified the protection with tough measures. It has established two bottom lines for preserving the environmental quality, and advanced key ecological restoration projects on planting the shelter forests, combating desertification and soil loss and water erosion, etc. The forest coverage along the Yangtze River banks has reached 49 percent. Moreover, greater efforts have been made in canvassing and treating the environmental hazards in the Three Gorges project area.
The city emphasized the optimization of the industrial structure, and overachieved the energy conservation and pollution reduction goals set forth for the 12th Five-Year Plan period. A total of 256 heavy polluters were relocated, so that iron and steel makers, coal-fired power plants, chemical plants, coal-fired boilers and cement producers were all taken out of the city proper. It has seriously implemented the air, water, and soil pollution control action plans, as a result of which the city proper recorded 301 days that attained air quality standard in 2016. The water quality of Chongqing segment of the mainstream of Yangtze River has been kept at Grade Ⅲ standard.
During the monthlong central government inspection, Chongqing cooperated closely with the inspection team. By the end of February, all of the 1,824 environmental problems handed over by the team had been handled, having 1,427 enterprises make rectifications, imposing fines on 467 enterprises, holding 16 persons in custody, having 64 persons summoned for talks, and holding two organizations and 40 individuals accountable.
The inspection team pointed it out that the economic growth and environmental protection in Chongqing contradict significantly and the local eco-environmental conservation poses a chronic and complicated problem. Given its special position in the country, the city’s green efforts still cannot meet the expectations of the central government and the people.
The pressure for protecting the environment diminished at lower levels, and some of the local districts and departments did not perform their environmental protection responsibilities well. The environmental performance was not factored into the promotion of government officials in seven of the eight inspected districts (counties). Nanchuan District ranked the last in environmental performance among the new development areas, however, the district Party committee and government neither paid enough attention to it nor implemented the municipal water pollution control plan. The assessment of environmental goals attainment was superficial in Changshou District.
The municipal urban and rural development commission neither made plans for nor monitored and evaluated the development of municipal wastewater pipes. As a result, the progress was behind schedule and Caijia wastewater treatment plant, although completed in 2013, was not put into operation until October 2016. The municipal agriculture commission was found inadequate in treating the poultry and livestock pollution, and around 28 mil. t feces and urine was left untreated every year.
The water protection was weak as well. The city highlighted the protection of the mainstream of the rivers and the urban river segments and neglected that of tributaries and rural river segments. Up to 15.8 percent of the monitored sections did not attain water quality standards required for their functions in 2016. Thirty-nine out of the 54 planned municipal wastewater treatment plants in key river basins were not completed as scheduled. Moreover, the sludge, hazardous waste, and medical waste treatment capacities were insufficient.
Leachate treatment facilities were unavailable in 46 landfill sites put into operation before 2008, and the leachate was treated by wastewater treatment plants instead, which was against regulations and posed environmental risks.
The water pollution by shipping services was not treated satisfactorily. The shipboard wastewater was discharged into waterborne facilities only in the city proper and the districts and counties along the mainstream of the Yangtze River. The water pollution facilities were not readily available in some ports and wharfs and the wastewater was discharged directly into the Yangtze River. A total of 24 industrial parks sat beside Yangtze River, Jialing River, and Wujiang River, causing certain environmental risks.
The protection of the nature, ecological environment, and drinking water sources needed to be strengthened. The mines had occupied a total of 132.2 km2 area in Chongqing by 2015, but only 4.6 percent had been reclaimed. And 131 out of the 575 ecological conservation projects in the Three Gorges project area were not completed.
The administrations of only two out of the seven national nature reserves were covered by the provincial government budget. The master plans of 51 local nature reserves were left unapproved by competent departments.
Moreover, the Grade A protected areas of 16 centralized drinking water sources across the city were not isolated, and there were other projects inside 12 protected areas, such as wharfs that are irrelevant to the water supply and protection.
The inspectors demanded that Chongqing seriously implement the “ecology first and green development” requirement put forward by General Secretary Xi Jinping and accelerate the development of the ecological barriers in the upper reaches of the Yangtze River. The city should have a correct understanding of its special position in the national environmental protection landscape and the Yangtze River economic belt, improve its environmental governance capacity, and continue to take a leading role in the ecological development and environmental protection effort. The city should make systematic plans and measures to address the ongoing environmental problems, and ask relevant departments to probe and handle the problems revealed by the inspectors.
The inspection team emphasized that the municipal Party committee and government should work out a rectification plan soon based on the Environmental Protection Inspection Program (on trial) and the above feedback, and submit the plan to the State Council within 30 working days. The rectification plan and the results will be made public.
The team also straightened out the cases on the accountability for local ecological damages, and handed them over to the municipal Party committee and government for further processing.
(This English version is for your reference only.In case any discrepancy exists between the Chinese and English context, the Chinese version shall prevail.)