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Government to step up oversight of environmental agencies

Zheng Jinran
Updated: Oct 14,2015 7:16 AM     China Daily

China will take a tougher stance on agencies that provide environmental impact assessments, with new rules to take effect on Nov 1, according to the Ministry of Environmental Protection.

The ministry this year has conducted inspections on agencies that provide environmental impact assessment services for projects in many regions, and has found many problems, according to the ministry’s statement on Oct 13.

Many agencies, for instance, have “ghost” employees, such as engineers who only attach their certificates to the agencies but do not work there. It also found that assessment documents failed to meet required standards, said Cheng Lifeng, head of the environmental impact assessment department under the ministry, on Oct 13.

Sixteen engineers associated with agencies as “ghost” employees have been identified and have been publicly criticized by the ministry and now have records in their credit system, the statement said. Four are employees of the environmental protection bureaus.

The ministry also said 53 agencies, among them the Environmental Protection Research Institute of Yizhou in Shanxi province, have had their qualification to do environmental impact assessments nullified or lowered because they did not have sufficient engineers onboard, as required.

In addition, another six agencies, including China Academy of Engineering Physics, have been told to improve their services within three months because of the poor quality of their documents, said the statement.

“The ministry will continue to control the illegal actions related to these agencies and will continue to carry out the nationwide inspection,” said Cheng.

The newly revised regulation on the projects’ environmental impact assessment will present a powerful tool for the environment watchdog in the fight against the illegal behavior of the agencies, Cheng said.

“Once such illegal behavior is exposed, the environmental protection bureau should punish the agencies immediately.”

The new regulation has been approved by the ministry. It stipulates that all agencies should be renewed in four years for the quality of its work, and forbids the engineers who attached their certificates to some agencies for extra money from doing environmental impact assessment services for three years.

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