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49 detained over environmental damage

Ma Zhiping/Liu Xiaoli
Updated: Jan 18,2018 8:51 AM     China Daily

Construction of a resort project at Riyue Bay, or Sun Moon Bay, in Wanning, Hainan province, has been halted. The Sun Moon Island project covers a reclamation area of 97 hectares, and construction on Moon Island, 49.1 hectares, began without proper permits.[Photo/China News Service]

So far, 295 officials have been held accountable, including 49 who were detained, for environmental damage caused by projects they were supposed to oversee, a senior official at Hainan’s Provincial Department of Ecology and Environment Protection said on Jan 17.

Mao Dongli, the department’s deputy director, said the tropical province has established nine inspection teams. The managing deputy governor will head the inspections, and top officials from the provincial discipline inspection commission, organization department and other key departments will be members.

They will inspect the nine environmental destruction cases reported by the central government in December to further clarify responsibility and punish individuals responsible.

The central government report, released after a monthlong inspection, criticized local authorities for several construction projects that had broken the law and left “scars” on the environment that would be hard to heal. The central government has since required local authorities to submit rectification plans before the end of this month.

As of Jan 12, the Hainan provincial government had fined 648 companies a total of 39.2 million yuan ($6.1 million), Mao said on Jan 17 in a news conference in Haikou, capital of Hainan. He said the government officials also were being held accountable. Details about the officials held responsible for the damage were not immediately available.

The rectification plans, covering 56 measures under four categories had been completed and submitted to the central government.

“Construction on all illegal projects mentioned in the central government inspection report has been suspended or stopped by now,” Mao said, adding that further actions against the projects over environmental destruction will be carried out after the rectification plans are approved by the central government.

A reclamation project with 18 floors and 145,612 square meters on Xiaozhou Island, near the Sanya river mouth, already has been knocked down and all construction rubbish has been moved away. Landscaping will be finished in a week, said Ni Shaoliang, deputy director of Tianya district, where the project is located.

The Phoenix Island project, with construction on its first phase begun 18 years ago, caused the loss of sand from beaches on the west side of Sanya Bay. Developers are implementing measures to restore the beach and improve the area’s water quality.

Last year, Hainan’s Department of Ecology and Environment Protection investigated 1,114 environmental violation cases and issued 104 million yuan in total fines, which exceeded the total for the entire 12th five-year plan period (2011-15).

Mao said Hainan will further improve its legal platform for pollution supervision and strictly abide by the environment law in regard to developing economic projects.

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