But director warns that environmental officers will tackle all illegal projects The mainland's top environmental watchdog had to withstand strong opposition in calling a halt to 30 large industrial projects being built without its approval, a move welcomed by green experts and activists. State Environment Protection Administration deputy director Pan Yue admitted there were enormous and complicated interests involved in the 30 projects - mostly related to energy - which ran from 100 million yuan up to 73 billion yuan. 'It is obvious that my administration is facing pressure. Besides, the fact that many of the affected projects had been approved by other government departments made it even more complicated,' he was quoted as saying by Xinhua yesterday. 'But environmental impact assessments must not be a rubber stamp and my administration will never be soft in tackling illegal projects. 'Supervision by the public and media is an important force in environmental protection. The government itself is obviously unable to do as much as it would like in this regard.' An administration spokesman yesterday dismissed speculation about its authority to make such decisions. 'It is within the jurisdiction of this administration because [the projects] violate the environmental impact assessment law,' the official said. '[The order] is only the first step in exposing these activities, which are not in line with the law. There will be measures to follow to implement the ban.' According to the law, which came into effect in 2003, the environmental authority can halt any project that fails to pass mandatory environmental impact assessments. Topping the list of the 30 suspended projects is the Xiluodu hydroelectric power plant on the upper Yangtze River, known locally as the Jinsha River, on the border between Sichuan and Yunnan . At a projected cost of 73 billion yuan, it is set to be the second largest in the country with a planned capacity of 12,600 MW. Sichuan geologist Fan Xiao said the suspensions illustrated the widespread ignorance of the role of environmental impact assessments in planning for large power plants. Professor Fan noted local authorities usually granted big projects special treatment, contrary to the law. 'The solemnity of our law is often challenged [by these unlawful activities],' he said. However, he did not think the Xiluodu project would be halted for long, because construction was well under way. 'The environmental impact assessment law was adopted two months after the project started,' Professor Fan said. 'It may need to take remedial measures to complete the assessments.'