Chinese environmental authorities summoned leaders from five cities over the past two days to reprimand them for severe pollution in their jurisdictions and for illegal－and damaging－mineral explorations in nature reserves.
The sessions bared sharper teeth as the central government pushes to protect the environment. The Ministry of Environmental Protection conducted the talks on Jan 13 and 14.
Among the problems, the ministry found severe damage in five national nature reserves through satellite monitoring and field investigations.
The reserves are located in the Inner Mongolia autonomous region’s Xilin Gol grassland, on Xiaoqinling Mountain in Henan province, Helan Mountain in the Ningxia Hui autonomous region, Changdao Island in Shandong province and Danxia Mountain in Guangdong province, the ministry said on Jan 14.
In Xiaoqinling, Henan, at least 10 mining companies have worked inside the national nature reserve, leaving more than 20 million metric tons of mineral waste residue covering large areas and destroying the surrounding environment.
Illegal explorations also happened on Helan Mountain, where 35 mining companies worked illegally inside the reserve.
In addition, the ministry exposed three hydropower stations inside the Danxia Mountain that had failed to get environmental impact assessments, the first process before a project is approved for construction.
The ministry ordered the governments to release plans to the public outlining efforts to halt illegal mineral explorations, to stop polluters and to restore the damaged environment. Officials accountable for the loose supervision and illegal projects should receive severe punishments, it said.
In 2015, the ministry summoned 16 city leaders to address severe pollution problems, Chen said.
Since the start of the year, inspection teams have had greater power to summon provincial leaders. Hebei province represents the first use of that power.