China punishes officials for tampering with smog monitoring

This is a May 7, 2013 file photo of a foreign tourist wearing a mask walks in front of Tiananmen Gate on a polluted day in Beijing, China. (AP)
Updated 15 January 2018
0

China punishes officials for tampering with smog monitoring

SHANGHAI: China has punished officials in the provinces of Jiangxi and Henan for tampering with pollution monitoring equipment in order to reduce smog readings, the environment ministry said in a notice on Sunday.
China has been waging a “war on pollution” since 2014 in a bid to reverse the environmental and political damage done by more than three decades of untrammelled economic growth, but enforcement has been a constant problem.
The Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP) said officials in the cities of Xinyu in Jiangxi and Xinyang in Henan, sought to reduce emissions readings by spraying water on their air quality sensors.
Both cities are major producers of polluting and energy-intensive nonferrous metals like aluminum and copper.
The two local governments said the officials responsible were dismissed or subjected to “administrative” punishments.
“Regardless of whether they deny deliberately tampering and whether or not it has an obvious impact on emissions data, spraying water on air quality monitoring sampling points... disrupts the normal operations of air quality monitoring,” the ministry said on Sunday.
The MEP has tried to establish a real-time nationwide emissions monitoring system to help fight against pollution and ensure its rules are being enforced throughout the country.
But it has also been forced to crack down on the widespread falsification of data, with local officials accused of trying to evade responsibility by misusing or disabling monitoring equipment. Some firms have also sought to evade monitoring by operating only at night.
The ministry has sought to reduce “administrative interference” in its emissions data by bringing all its 1,436 monitoring stations under central government control and denying local authorities access to the equipment.
This isn’t the first time Henan has been castigated for failing to maintain the integrity of its air quality data, with the ministry accusing local firms of providing fraudulent emissions figures in March last year.
Local environmental officials in the northwestern city of Xian have also been punished for stuffing sensors with cotton and removing surveillance tapes.


Thousands await rescue amid deadly south Indian floods

Updated 1 min 5 sec ago
0

Thousands await rescue amid deadly south Indian floods

NEW DELHI: Thousands of stranded people are waiting for rescue as relentless monsoon floods batter the south Indian state of Kerala, where more than 170 have died in a little over a week and much of the state is at least partially submerged.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi met Saturday with the state’s top officials, promising tens of millions of dollars in aid.
The central government has dispatched military units to Kerala, but state officials are pleading for additional help.
The Indian Express newspaper reported that state legislator Saji Cherian begged for aid on a TV news channel, saying, “Please ask Modi to give us helicopters, give us helicopters. please, please!“
Over 300 people have died in Kerala since the monsoon started in June, including over 170 since torrential rains began in August.