• Shanghai Pollution

Shanghai Pollution (Photo : Getty Images)

On Wednesday, Chinese authorities condemned the city government for failing to resolve the problem of Shanghai pollution. China’s business hub was accused of sluggish efforts to improve the environment and of imposing fines too light to daunt polluters, hundreds of which have ignored closure orders.

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According to the official website of the Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP), an inspection team, after conducting a month-long investigation late 2016, discovered that the standards imposed in Shanghai have lowered and some of the city’s environmental projects had grown “slack.”

The ministry added that the unfinished environmental protection work could hinder the city’s development.

“Shanghai's environmental protection work has had obvious successes but environmental quality remains a prominent weak point affecting the city's overall development,” the ministry said.

Further, 88 of the 259 water samples tested were found unsuitable even for farm and industrial use, getting a categorization below the “grade V.” Since 2013, the overall quality of water in some districts has noticeably degraded.

The ministry pointed out Shanghai’s decision to delay from 2016 until 2020 a target of setting higher standards for urban waste water treatment. The city’s plan to upgrade urban sewage and waste treatment had also missed target schedules.

The pollutants from the old landfills are still leaking into Shanghai’s water supply. Trash continues to be illegally dumped, the ministry added.

The investigating team also found that the Shanghai law enforcement levy fines that are not heavy enough to deter relentless polluters. 800 enterprises with closure orders issued since 2013 were still conducting normal operations.

China’s local governments are substantial battlegrounds in the country’s “war on pollution.” However, many of them are accused of neglecting environmental violations in order to protect valuable revenue and employment sources.

Since last year, environmental inspection teams have been dispersed across the country. These teams are authorized to conduct surprise inspections and hold local officials responsible.

Based on reports released by the teams last November, despite the developments in addressing air pollution, there has been a significant decline in the quality of water in several regions.

The national government puts pressure on the city government, forcing it to exert more effort in curbing Shanghai pollution.