Thursday, June 14, 2007

Local Governments Blamed for Unsuccessful Environmental Campaign

Rivers in China are facing serious pollution

A campaign launched by the central government to protect drinking water resources fell short of its goals and the State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA) has blamed local governments for not cooperating with the central authorities.

The campaign, a joint effort of seven state departments, requested that by the end of last year, every province should have drawn up the boundaries of protection areas of drinking water resources, and made sure that no waste discharge outlets existed in “first class” protection areas.

So far, however, only some of the provinces have decided their protection areas, and even fewer have lived up to the requirement of removing drainage from key protection areas, Legal Daily reported.

“Even a joint campaign by seven state departments got out of shape when reached the local level, which demonstrated that environmental protection orders from the central government really faces the embarrassing situation of being stalled,” a SEPA official was quoted by the newspaper as saying.

Staff of local environmental agencies, however, complained that they were simply the scapegoat of SEPA’s poor job. In a comment on, a poster, who identified himself as a local environmental worker, criticized the SEPA for poor coordination among its own departments and making it difficult for local agencies to follow their directions.

Many other online comments called for stronger enforcement of state environmental policies. One poster said that it hurts to “watch rivers around us disappearing one after another,” and voiced hope for “iron strong” state policies and executions.

SEPA has long blamed local governments for failing to protect local environment but has not yet come up with efficient means to deal with the problem, since the agency has little power to control local finance or personnel. A scholar suggested that environmental protection should be included in central government’s evaluation of local government officials, to push them to do a better job.

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