Township enterprises face strict pollution controls
TOM KORSKI in Beijing
China is threatening to enforce strict pollution controls in the fastest-growing sector of its economy, though officials concede 'huge losses' may result.
Authorities yesterday said new pollution checks would be imposed on township enterprises, a collection of 23 million locally-owned mines, mills and factories credited with driving the nation's industrial reforms.
The township sector reported value-added output of US$213 billion last year, one-third of China's total.
Beijing's Township Enterprise Bureau said the thriving sector now 'poses a threat to agricultural development' because of vast discharges of pollution.
'While township enterprises contribute half of the country's industrial production, they disgorge one-fifth of the country's waste water, gas and residue,' the state bureau said.
Under new regulations published in the China Daily, new township enterprises will be required to submit federal environmental impact reports prior to licensing while operating industries 'are asked to be equipped with pollution-proof facilities'.
The regulations come three weeks after state-run banks announced no new credits would be extended to township enterprises cited as environmental hazards.
Officials said 285,000 rural workers were 'transferred' or laid off following the closure of an estimated 60,000 township enterprises cited as environmental hazards over the past four months.
'While the action has been applauded by the public, it brought huge losses to local villagers,' the Township Enterprise Bureau said.