By Wednesday, the Beijing and Tianjin municipalities, as well as several cities in neighboring Hebei and Henan provinces, had sounded yellow alerts for air pollution. The Ministry of Environmental Protection sent inspection groups to these cities and found that some local governments failed to take the proper measures and actions to curb air pollution. An editorial on Beijing News comments:
It should be noted that Baoding city in Hebei province is also on the list. Its local officials even tried to hide the environmental problems. For example, a new hospital under construction on 10,000 square meters of land caused severe dust pollution, but the local authorities reported the land concerned was just 900 sq m.
What makes Baoding special is the fact that on April 1, the central leadership announced the decision to build Xiongan New Area in three of the counties under its governance. The new area will thus very likely face high environmental pressure.
Xiongan New Area was also found to have many small enterprises that failed to meet the environmental standards.
If the local governments are so lax in their enforcement of the environmental standards, how can we expect Xiongan New Area to be clean and green?
A key problem with local environmental protection departments is the lack of an accountability system. When they fail to do their duty of protecting the environment, they do not pay any price for their failure.
Besides, some local officials hardly have any sense about environmental protection. The central disciplinary inspection teams have remarked that some local officials just do not know how difficult it is to protect the environment. How can these officials do the job of environmental protection well?
It is time we changed this. The establishment of Xiongan New Area is a millennial strategic plan, and its success will not be possible without a clean environment. It is time to strengthen environmental protection in Xiongan New Area and neighboring cities so as to prevent environmental problems from affecting its development.