Province continued construction of unapproved power plants After weeks of rhetoric, the State Council yesterday fired a warning shot by announcing punishments for top officials from Inner Mongolia , accusing them of openly defying central government directives to build several multibillion-yuan power plants without proper official approval, Xinhua reported. The high-profile announcement, which was made following a State Council meeting chaired by Premier Wen Jiabao , is clearly aimed at warning local officials against ignoring central government directives to slow down runaway fixed-asset investment, which has contributed heavily to economic overheating. The State Council yesterday focused its wrath on the decision by Inner Mongolian officials to push ahead with the construction of a coal-fired power plant that cost 2.89 billion yuan. The statement accused the local officials of breaching central government regulations including failure to seek proper approval, illegal use of land, filing false claims and breaching safety regulations to speed up construction - which led to an industrial accident that saw six workers killed and eight injured in July last year. It said the local officials even continued construction after senior authorities highlighted the Xinfeng Power Plant as an illegal project. The State Council said Inner Mongolia pushed ahead with the construction of power plants with a total combined capacity of 8.6GW without prior approval. As a result, the State Council had decided to take disciplinary action against at least six officials, while two others would face criminal prosecution, Xinhua said. Huercha, director and party chief of Inner Mongolia's regional development and reform committee, and another official, Huang Alatengbielige, were ordered to write self-criticism letters to the regional government, the Ministry of Supervision said yesterday. Ma Dacheng, the deputy general-manager of the Xinfeng plant, was given a demerit and Wang Dong, its general manager and party chief, was demoted. Both received a warning from the party organisation. Hao Zhiqiang, Xinfeng's general manager and chairman, and director of the electricity bureau in Ulanqab , the city where the plant is located, received a demerit and a warning from the party. Zhao Fengshan, general manager and deputy party chief of the Inner Mongolia electricity group, received the same penalties for failing to stop the project. Two contractors involved in the building of the plant, Chen Hongjun and Guo Lei, would be prosecuted for contributing to the accident that killed the workers, the ministry said. The State Council said it had also ordered the chairman of the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, Yang Jing , and his two deputies, Yue Fuhong and Zhao Shuanglian , to write self-criticism letters, and circulated a letter criticising the Inner Mongolian authorities as a whole. It is the first time the central government has publicly shamed the top officials of a provincial government for their failure to heed measures designed to slow the economy. 'It was a typical example of local governments' ignorance of discipline and rules,' Xinhua quoted the statement as saying. Xinhua said local officials from around the nation should learn a lesson and resolutely uphold the authority of the central government's macroeconomic measures. Peking University law school professor He Weifang said he did not think runaway investment by local governments would be stopped by the warning. 'There is great gap between the central and local governments, but Beijing just gives orders and never tries to understand the core reasons why local officials fail to implement policies,' Professor He said. 'Without an efficient supervision mechanism like freedom of press on the mainland to supervise local officials' actions, any orders and policies are just hollow words.'