Rising anger as complaints about Beijing's air pollution double
Complaints about Beijing's air pollution more than doubled in the first five months of the year, authorities said, pointing to a sign of rising public anger about the cost of rapid economic growth in the city.
The Beijing Municipal Bureau of Environmental Protection revealed on Friday that the public lodged 12,599 formal complaints about smog from January to May, 124 per cent more than the same period last year.
Beijing, routinely shrouded in hazardous smog, has been on the front line of a "war against pollution" declared by Premier Li Keqiang in March in an effort to head off growing discontent about the state of the country's skies, rivers and soil.
More than 70 per cent of the environment-related complaints submitted to Beijing authorities from January to May concerned air pollution, the environmental bureau said.
To defuse potential sources of unrest, leaders have been desperate to show they are firmly on the side of the public in the battle against pollution, setting up hotlines, task forces and rapid-response teams, as well as encouraging the public to participate in campaigns against violators.
A newly amended environmental law also stipulates that the authorities must ensure transparency and accountability, and also promises to improve access to the court system for people harmed by pollution.
In a separate notice, the Beijing environmental bureau said that as many as 114 firms had been punished this month after its latest week-long campaign targeting environmental violations in the catering, car-manufacturing and car-repair sectors.
The bureau said the firms were ordered to pay a total of 2.45 million yuan in fines.