28 October 2016
A woman bicycles in Beijing during an unprecedented air pollution red alert last month. Photo: AFP
A woman bicycles in Beijing during an unprecedented air pollution red alert last month. Photo: AFP

Polluters in Beijing fined 183 mln yuan in 2015

Beijing’s environmental watchdog levied fines totalling about 183 million yuan (US$27.76 million) for violations of pollution laws in the Chinese capital last year, official news agency Xinhua said Friday.

State media reported last year that the 100 million yuan Beijing collected in pollution fines in the first nine months of 2015 was almost twice the amount during the same period in 2014.

The ruling Communist Party has only in recent years begun to acknowledge the damage that decades of growth-at-all-costs economic development have done to China’s skies, rivers and soil.

It is now trying to equip its environmental inspection offices with greater powers and more resources to tackle persistent polluters and local governments that protect them, Reuters reported.

An amended air pollution law, passed by the legislature in August, grants the state new powers to punish offenders and create a legal framework to cap coal consumption, China’s biggest source of smog.

Xinhua said the fines included 44 million yuan in nearly 2,000 cases involving air pollution, which has become a hot-button issue in the Chinese capital and other cities frequently engulfed in hazardous smog that worsens during winter.

The authorities imposed fines of 72 million yuan for 181 infringements relating to water and other areas, the news agency quoted the Beijing Municipal Environmental Protection Bureau as saying.

Beijing has put nearly 20,000 pollution sources in key industries under “strict supervision”, the bureau said.

The city’s average density of PM2.5 (airborne particulate matter under 2.5 microns in diameter that can penetrate deep into the lungs) from Nov. 15 to Dec. 31 rose 75.9 percent year-on-year, despite improvement in air quality throughout 2015, Xinhua said, quoting official figures.

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