Shandong city accused of closing businesses to lift air quality rank 

Shandong city accused of closing businesses to lift air quality rank

By AYBEK ASKHAR | China Daily | Updated: 2019-09-06 08:57

To achieve an instant improvement of air quality, a district government in Linyi city, Shandong province, abused its power when it shut down or suspended a large number of restaurants, timber enterprises and parking lots for freight vehicles, the Ministry of Environment and Ecology has found.

It was the “first shot” fired in the ministry’s effort to crack down on one-size-fits-all approaches used by some local governments as a way to cope with air quality inspections.

In recent years, as inadequate efforts have been made to control air pollution in Linyi, the city has ranked low in the national air quality index. Linyi was 10th from the bottom from January to June this year, and it had the lowest ranking in Shandong.

On July 15, after their poor performance on the most recent air quality rankings, seven cities in Shandong that ranked among the bottom 20 in the country-including Linyi and Jinan, the provincial capital-were ordered by provincial level officials to improve their air quality.

According to the notice released by the ministry a few days ago, the city government of Linyi announced in a meeting that the township level secretaries of the Party committee whose areas ranked among the bottom two positions in the air-pollution rating will be removed from office.

To improve the ranking, Lanshan district has forced many restaurants to close. Furthermore, over 400 timber plank enterprises were shut down, and 25 freight yard parking lots were closed for rectification, though one meant for public transportation was allowed to remain open.

On Aug 30, inspectors found that during mealtimes in the afternoon and evening, none of the restaurants opened in Yitang township of Lanshan district. This despite the fact that most of them had installed fume purification systems, the majority of the businesses were operating legitimately and most met environmental protection requirements.

Linyi is the biggest timber plank production and trading base in China. The timber enterprises are mainly located in Lanshan district, and represent the main industry of the district. In order to reduce emissions, the district temporarily halted the supply of steam, causing more than 400 timber enterprises that have experienced multiple rounds of environmental inspections to suspend their operations.

On Wednesday, Wang Yujun, Party chief of Linyi, said a joint-inspection team would be set up to deal with the abuse of power in Lanshan district. Those responsible would be punished severely.

The ministry is engaging in a special campaign to crack down on such practices that damage the basic rights and interests of legitimate enterprises.

The ministry established a hotline (010-12369) to accept complaints from Sept 1 to Nov 30. It also will make the rectification results public on its website.

At this year’s National People’s Congress gathering in March, Li Ganjie, minister of the Ministry of Environment and Ecology, made clear that one-size-fits-all approaches should be strictly prohibited.

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