BEIJING, June 14 Complaints about air pollution
in the Chinese capital of Beijing more than doubled in the first
five months of 2014, the city environment authority said, a sign
of rising public anger about the cost of rapid economic growth.
The Beijing Municipal Environmental Bureau revealed late on
Friday that 12,599 formal complaints about smog were lodged by
members of the public from January to May, 124 percent higher
than the same period of last year.
Beijing, routinely shrouded in hazardous smog, has been on
the front line of a "war against pollution" declared by Premier
Li Keqiang in March in a bid to head off growing discontent
about the state of the country's skies, rivers and soil.
Smog was involved in 72.6 percent of the total number of
environment-related complaints submitted to the Beijing
authorities from January to May, the environmental bureau said.
In a bid to defuse potential sources of unrest, China's
leaders have been desperate to show they are firmly on the side
of the public in the battle against pollution, setting up
hotlines, task forces and rapid response teams, and encouraging
the public to participate in campaigns against violators.
A newly amended environmental law also stipulates that
authorities must ensure transparency and accountability, and
also promises to improve access to the court system for people
harmed by pollution.
In a separate notice, the Beijing environmental bureau said
as many as 114 firms had been punished this month after its
latest week-long campaign targeting environmental violations in
the catering, car manufacturing and car repair sectors.
It said the firms were ordered to pay a total of 2.45
million yuan ($394,600) in fines.
(Reporting by David Stanway; Editing by Robert Birsel)