China MEP launches the 2016 national-scale drill on environmental enforcement

Chinese air pollutionMEP.In an effort to promote the nation-wide team building for environmental enforcement, and further standardize and enhance the enforcement capacity and level, MEP decided to launch a national-scale drill on environmental enforcement between September and November 2016, and through appraisal of advanced and exemplary teams, create the benchmarking management environment by asking the teams to make comparison with the advanced teams, catch up with them and outdo them, and ultimately raise the awareness and capacity of the nationwide enforcement teams on conducting standardized enforcement.

Tian Weiyong, Director General of the Ministry’s Bureau of Environmental Supervision and Inspection, said that during the drill, local environmental protection departments at all levels will follow standard protocols in their routine or thematic enforcement operations, including inter alia, carrying out on-the-spot supervision and inspection at the premises of polluters, handling and punishing environmental violation cases, handing over and transferring cases, and auditing the environmental supervision and inspection operations. First, they will put greater efforts in enforcement through standard protocols, by improving the work systems and enforcement supervision mechanisms. Second, they will work harder on investigating and punishing violation cases and harshly crack down on environmental violations of all sorts. Third, they will embrace firmly the concept of enforcement for the people and enforcement in a civilized way, and safeguard the environmental rights and interests of the people and the legitimate rights and interests of the enforcement objects. Fourth, they will pay close attention to enhancing the capacity of the inspectors, provide training programs for the grassroots inspectors so that they will master the key points of on-the-spot supervision and inspection, familiarize with enforcement protocols and the paperwork, apply the environmental laws and regulations by following standard protocols, raise the enforcement level and efficiency, and manage to exercise enforcement in accordance with laws and protocols and to the letter.

At the end of the drill, the Ministry will have the work load, quality, and effects of local enforcement during the drill period evaluated by independent third-party entities, said Tian. Certain indicators have been designed to evaluate the performances of local enforcement organizations. Specifically, the indicator of “how well the enforcement files are kept” will guide the local areas to standardize the routine supervision and enforcement, administrative punishments, auditing of supervision and enforcement operations, and inter-departmental handover and transfer of environmental cases, improve the enforcement quality and level, and promote administration by law. The indicator of “the count of investigated and punished cases” is designed to encourage local areas to take the investigation and punishment of violation cases as the primary instrument for enhanced enforcement, put greater efforts in such investigations and punishments and doing so strictly by law, so that all punishable activities will be duly punished, and powerful momentum will be created to crack down on environmental violations. The “degree of public satisfaction” indicator will guide local environmental protection departments to regard high public satisfaction as the ultimate goal of environmental enforcement, safeguard the environmental rights and interests of the people, and raise the awareness of enforcement for the people. As an indicator with veto power, the indicator of “the changes in environmental quality” stresses that environmental enforcement should focus on the improvement of environmental quality, so to what extent the air and surface water quality has been improved will be one of the yardsticks to test the enforcement effects. There are also indicators to evaluate the performances of local inspectors. For example, the indicator of “the count of handled cases” measures the workload of an inspector. The indicator of “how good one is at handling the cases” says something about an inspector’s enforcement capacity. The “personal deeds” indicator evaluates one’s overall quality and work style. And the indicator of “honesty in enforcement” has veto power since honesty is the basic requirement for an inspector.

Finally, Tian said the national drill precludes any large-scale enforcement campaign or surprise operation, and local areas will not impose any punishment on firms simply on the pretext of the drill. They should highlight the real effects and launch the drill in a science-based approach. The public and the news press can very well be part of the drill, file a report or complaint against any environmental violation case that has bad impact on the public health and at the end of the drill cast a ballot to evaluate the local performances.

(This English version is for your reference only.In case any discrepancy exists between the Chinese and English context, the Chinese version shall prevail.)

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