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The Financial Express

Public platform to track, crack down on polluters

| Updated: February 10, 2021 14:13:18


Birds fly over a closed steel factory where chimneys of another working factory are seen in background, in Tangshan, Hebei province, China on February 27, 2016 — Reuters/Files Birds fly over a closed steel factory where chimneys of another working factory are seen in background, in Tangshan, Hebei province, China on February 27, 2016 — Reuters/Files

China will set up a new information platform to allow the public to track the emissions of polluting enterprises and help authorities prosecute those that break the rules or try to “evade supervision”, the environment ministry said.

A total of 2.36 million companies, industrial facilities and institutions in China are legally obliged to obtain permits to emit pollutants like sulphur dioxide or wastewater.

But China has struggled to collect the information required to make the system work, and has also faced obstruction and data fraud from some polluting firms.

According to the environment ministry, the new information platform will allow authorities and members of the public to monitor real-time emission levels and check historical data in order to determine whether rules are being breached. It is set to come into effect on March 1.

Liu Zhiquan, senior official with the Ministry of Ecology and Environment (MEE), told a briefing on Friday that they would take stronger action against firms that pollute without authorisation and falsify emissions data.

“For illegal behaviour such as the discharge of pollution without permits, there are continuous penalties issued on a daily basis, and they will also be ordered to cut production or shut down,” he said, adding that those found to be “evading supervision” would be detained.

Firms that repeatedly exceed allocations will be subject to more scrutiny and more frequent inspections, as will those that already have a poor “social credit” rating, the ministry said.

Polluting enterprises are obliged to install monitoring equipment and keep at least five years of data, with fines of 200,000 yuan ($31,000) for those that fail to do so. Fines of 1 million yuan can be imposed on firms that pollute without permission.

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