China to improve environmental impact assessments

The Ministry of Environmental Protection is pinning its hope on laws and regulations to ensure that projects are regulated by environmental impact assessments.

In a ministry statement released Wednesday, Vice Minister Pan Yue was quoted as saying that environmental impact assessment hasn't been adequately enforced, and in some cases, they do not happen at all. Even when the assessment is carried out, the results play hardly any role in evaluation and approval.

"Projects unhindered by environmental impact assessment have become the main cause of pollution, environmental emergencies, chaotic distribution, overcapacity and disorderly development," Pan said.

The statement said the ministry is working to amend the Law on Environmental Impact Assessment to set specific responsibilities for companies and government agencies with appropriate sanctions for poor enforcement.

The draft amendment, including stipulations on "far greater fines" for the construction of projects not yet officially approved, are already on the agenda of legislative authorities.

Among a series of rules already released by the ministry, one specifies punishment for officials who fail in enforcement, while another orders construction companies to repeat assessment for complicated and large-scale projects after a certain time of operations.

Pan revealed that an assessment campaign is already under way in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region, Shanghai and Pearl River Delta in southern China.

Source: Xinhua