The top environmental watchdog has claimed progress in another short-lived campaign against the widespread pollution of the country's major waterways, lifting its bans on some industrial projects along the Yangtze, Yellow and Huai rivers. In a statement on the State Environmental Protection Administration's website, Sepa deputy director Pan Yue said three cities, one county and one industrial zone in five provinces made marked progress in cutting pollution and meeting environmental standards after they were named and shamed in early July. Dropping off the blacklist were Bayannur city in Inner Mongolia, Weinan city in Shaanxi and Xiangfan county in Shanxi along the Yellow River, Zhoukou city in Henan on the Huai and Wuhu city's industrial zone in Anhui on the Yangtze. According to Mr Pan, some 650 industrial projects were closed down or suspended and another 100 were urged to rectify wrongdoings. A total of 725 million yuan in fines for discharging pollutants was collected. Mr Pan said the campaign had yet to make breakthroughs because other cities and industrial zones failed to respond to Sepa's ultimatum. Six cities, two counties, five industrial zones and 38 polluting enterprises in eight provinces were blacklisted by Sepa for dumping untreated waste into major rivers and lakes. Following the embarrassing failure to meet Beijing's ambitious pollution- and energy-reduction targets and a spate of water crises in heavily populated regions, Sepa halted approval for all new industrial projects in those regions except for those related to pollution control and recycling. But the move did not cover major industrial cities along the rivers, such as Shanghai and several cities surrounding the polluted Tai Lake, which was hit by an algal outbreak as a result of decades-long, break-neck economic growth. In the statement, Mr Pan acknowledged Sepa's efforts to reverse the country's worsening ecological degradation had made little headway because local authorities remained obsessed with fast development, often achieved at the expense of the environment. Meanwhile, a researcher with the National Development and Reform Commission told a Hong Kong forum yesterday that the soaring pollution and industrial safety incidents highlighted failures in government investment. 'While social investment grows at a high speed, funding for education, public health, environmental protection and production safety is barely adequate. This is not going to be sustainable,' said Luo Yunyi , director of the investment research institute under the planning body.