China is to launch a 20-day nationwide inspection on April 5 to crack down on corrupt environmental officials, according to the State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA) Monday.
The environmental watchdog will fire and penalize local officials who abuse their power in doing environmental assessment for projects and charging emission fees of enterprises, according to Jiang Yandong, SEPA's resident inspector from the Discipline Inspection Bureau.
A law published in 2003 enabled those officials to veto the approval of projects which are deemed to be polluting in environmental assessment. In addition, a regulation in the same year raised the maximum of emission charges paid by manufacturers.
"This has given local environmental officials much more power than before," Jiang said.
However, Jiang acknowledged that some of them are reported to protect polluters or blackmail honest players.
"SEPA hopes this inspection will clean up these acts. We also hope to set up institutions to contain abuses of power," said Jiang.
(Xinhua News Agency March 30, 2004)