Between Feb. 19 and 20, Minister Chen Jining went to Baoding Municipality of Hebei Province to launch the thematic inspection on air quality in the first quarter of 2017. Chen went on a field trip to Lixian County, Boye County and Anxin County in Baoding to investigate the upgrading of boilers in industries and the pollution discharge by small enterprise clusters. He also chaired a symposium and put forward requirements for the city’s air pollution control effort.
In 2016, Baoding, in accordance with the decisions and deployments of the CPC Central Committee and the State Council, paid close attention to implementing the “Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of Air Pollution”, and made tremendous efforts to advance the release of the “Enhanced Measures for the Prevention and Control of Air Pollution in Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei Area (2016-2017)”. As a result, the mean annual PM2.5 reading went down 13.1 percent from the 2015 level, and air quality management yielded stage-based progress. However, the city still faces very daunting situations, and the burning of scattered coals, coal-fired boilers, flying dust on road, vehicle pollution, “small, scattered, disorderly, and polluting” enterprises, stalk incineration, and rural garbage are still chronic and tough issues. Almost every county of Baoding boasts certain feature industries, although many are “scattered, disorderly, and polluting” enterprises which have small scales, inefficient production processes, insufficient environmental facilities, and discharge pollution beyond the limits allowed by emission standards. They cluster in the urban-rural fringe areas with towering chimneys and are the tough nuts to crack in the air pollution control effort. “These ‘scattered, disorderly, and polluting’ enterprises burn cheap coals without any environmental facility and wreak havoc on the environment. What’s more, they disrupt the order of market competition with low costs, which will drive the good enterprises out of the market, so they should be phased out as soon as possible,” said Chen. He urged the city to make plans for developing industrial parks and zones as soon as possible, relocate the enterprises in such parks and zones, exercise environmental management on them, provide them with collective electricity and gas supply to solve the problems caused by coal-fired boilers, and in the meantime, take this opportunity to accelerate the industrial upgrading, eliminate inefficient production capacities, and allow the enterprises which take sufficient environmental measures and produce high-quality products to have more scope for development.
Cracked pavement, lots of sandy roads, thick flying dust enveloping the roads, shuttling heavy-duty trucks are the pressing problems facing the local road traffic. It is said that as many as 20,000 coal trucks run through Baoding city every day. With booming traffic and poor carrying capacity, added by poor urban management, flying dust and vehicles contribute notably to the city’s air pollution. “The control of flying dust costs little but the effects are remarkable, so we must strengthen city management and make substantial efforts to address the flying dust problem,” Chen repeated.
On the sides of the streets and the entrances to the villages, quite some garbage was littered randomly and even burnt in several places. Chen reminded the persons-in-charge of Baoding municipality for several times that “we can never overlook the rural garbage treatment, because it is not only about the integrated rural environment management and air pollution control, but also an important part of completing the building of a moderately prosperous society.”
In response, the persons-in-charge said the air pollution control work is pressing ahead in an orderly way in the urban districts. However, the work at county level is relatively more difficult, because of such remaining problems as less attention, underfunding, unsatisfactory regulation, and unfulfilled responsibilities.
Chen held a symposium on the night of Feb. 19 in which the heads of the counties and districts in Baoding all participated. Chen said that the CPC Central Committee and the State Council have highly valued air pollution control, and General Secretary Xi Jinping has made important instructions on multiple occasions. The city made considerable efforts in air pollution control in 2016 and achieved active progress that was hard earned. However, there is still a large gap from the requirements of the CPC Central Committee and the expectations of the local people, the city still faces a lot of difficulties and challenges, and there are still quite a few problems with the management of scattered coals, coal-fired boilers, “scattered, disorderly, and polluting” enterprises, flying dust on road, and emergency response to heavy air pollution. The main purpose of this inspection is to highlight the air pollution control work in districts and counties, which is a key link and poor link, so that efforts will be made to focus on problems, transmit stress from upper levels, implement control measures, earnestly solve pressing problems, and make sure the air pollution control effort make substantial progress in all fronts.
Chen required that Baoding municipality and all of its districts and counties should earnestly practice the important concept of “clean waters and green mountains are tantamount to gold and silver mountains”, raise ideological awareness, take the environmental protection as a cutting point and an opportunity to notably improve urban management level and advance industrial upgrading. They should step up the grid-based regulation, make a list of tasks and identify the persons-in-charge for hotspot grids, assign the tasks and allocate the responsibilities, and make sure all tasks are carried out satisfactorily. They should step up the urban management and integrated rural environment management, and work faster to address the flying dust on road and the rural garbage problem. Moreover, they should tighten the regulation over vehicles especially heavy-duty, diesel-fueled vehicles that run through the city, and apply such technical instruments as monitoring with remote sensing technology to severely crack down on vehicles that emit pollution beyond the limits set out by emission standards. Furthermore, they should further improve the contingency plan for heavy air pollution, work out more pertinent emergency response measures, and make sure the measure are feasible and verifiable. Finally, they should enhance team building for environmental regulation, and combined with the reform for a vertical management framework for the environmental monitoring, inspection, and enforcement by environmental protection departments under provincial level, enhance the training and work harder to observe the protocols in enforcement. In the meantime, MEP will give more guidance and policy support to Baoding and help it advance the improvement of air quality.
(This English version is for your reference only.In case any discrepancy exists between the Chinese and English context, the Chinese version shall prevail.)