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Enterprises Punished for Pollution
A total of 37 enterprises have been punished in the past month for seriously polluting the environment, with some of these infractions even making people ill, the State Environmental Protection Administration announced yesterday in Beijing.

Located in eight different provincial regions, the enterprises have either been closed down or forced to suspend production until improvements have been made within defined time intervals. Many of the enterprises were also required to pay hefty fines.

As many as 30-odd individuals, ranging from enterprise owners and managers to related government officials, have also been subjected to various punishments for their roles in these cases.

Lu Xinyuan, director of the administration's Investigation Center, said the move has clearly shown the administration's resolve to fight against pollution.

But the situation is still truly alarming, Lu said.

He estimated the 37 enterprises punished represent 84 per cent of the total that the administration spot checked in June, the first phase of a three-month-long national investigation.

Although the country overhauled many of its industrial enterprises on national pollutant discharge standards three years ago, some of those qualified enterprises have gone back to discharging unprocessed waste and sewage.

"In some cases, the enterprises cannot afford the treatment of their waste and sewage after a blind round of production expansion," said Lu.

"But in some other cases, the shortsighted enterprises have simply ignored their social responsibilities."

For example, the Wuhan Chenming Paper Co Ltd and the Ningxia Meili Paper Group, two of the country's leading paper makers, were singled out. Both can clearly afford the necessary treatment of their polluting wastes and sewage, but have not upgraded their pollution treatment equipment while expanding their production scale.

(China Daily July 16, 2003)

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