China's central government chastises Jiangsu for not properly enforcing anti-pollution measures

BEIJING (Reuters) - China’s environment ministry accused an unspecified number of officials in Jiangsu province of not properly enforcing anti-pollution measures in the manufacturing hub on China’s east coast, the ministry said in a statement on Wednesday.

FILE PHOTO: A worker is seen at the workshop of a steel mill in Huaian, Jiangsu province, China August 4, 2018. REUTERS/Stringer/File Photo

The Ministry of Ecology and Environment (MEE) in a report noted a number of ways the province did not carry out strong enough efforts to implement the anti-pollution policies.

Three cities in Jiangsu, including regional steelmaking center Xuzhou and the provincial capital of Nanjing, inflated the amount of reductions in coal consumption in 2017 by almost twice as much as the actual cuts, the report said.

“Cutting coal use is a key measure for Jiangsu to realize industrial upgrade. However, provincial authorities did not put enough efforts on this mission and even gave high scores to cities that failed the targets,” the MEE said.

The report also noted that during central government inspections in the province in June and July to revisit earlier environmental violations during previous probes the investigators found a higher number of firms should have been closed for not meeting environmental regulations.

The province had reported a list of 414 chemical companies that would be closed but the inspectors actually found 530 firms that needed to shut.

The report also said that Jiangsu Shagang Group [JSSGG.UL], China’s biggest privately owned steel producer, was found during the revisits of failing to rectify breaches in pollution rules.

“The air pollution situation in Jiangsu is still very severe, as some authorities did not enforce effective measures and did not hold resolute attitude on wining the war against pollution,” said the MEE report.

The MEE gave the Jiangsu provincial government 30 working days to submit rectification plans on the issues inspectors found. Furthermore, it ordered the province to punish the officials responsible for the violations.

Jiangsu, along with the provinces of Zhejiang, Anhui and the city of Shanghai, is working on a new integrated winter pollution plan similar to the one in place for northern China, to reduce toxic emissions across the area.

Reporting by Muyu Xu and Dominique Patton; Editing by Christian Schmollinger