The Ministry of Ecology and Environment summoned top officials from two cities and a county to Beijing on June 4 and exhorted them to take action to rectify environmental pollution in their jurisdictions.
On June 4, the ministry said it had discovered that the governments of Shizhu Tujia autonomous county in Chongqing, Yulin in the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region and Yichun in Jiangxi province had failed to correct problems found during inspections by central government teams.
The Shizhu government had not halted construction encroaching on its Shuimoxi Wetland Nature Reserve along a major tributary of the Yangtze River, the ministry said.
During an environmental inspection in 2016, central government inspectors found an industrial park was being built on the reserve, occupying 21 percent of its land, the ministry said. The construction had seriously damaged the wetland, inspectors said.
They called on the Shizhu government to fix the problem and hold the culprits accountable, but the local government was reluctant to do so. Instead of halting the construction, it attempted to redefine the boundary of the reserve so the industrial park would lie outside it, the ministry said in a statement.
In Yulin, authorities also did not address problems involving environmental damage to make way for the building of a power plant. The city also failed to restore the water quality of the Nanliu River as had been required of them by the end of last year, the ministry said. In addition, the city did not effectively prevent some factories from discharging sewage into rivers or on farmland, the ministry said.
Similarly, the Yichun government failed to stop factories from polluting with dust and sewage and producing odors that led to residents complaining, the ministry said.
Summoned to Beijing, the chief officials from the three local governments acknowledged the problems and promised to solve them, the ministry said.
Under a regulation issued in 2014 by the now defunct Ministry of Environmental Protection, the ministry can summon local government officials to Beijing in cases of serious environmental pollution and tell them to rectify the issues.
Since the Ministry of Ecology and Environment was established in April, it has intensified the summoning of officials, the ministry said.