Shanghai - China has punished more than 2,500 firms and detained 95 people after a state inspection campaign across eight provinces turned up instances of illegal quarrying and wetland encroachments among others, the environment ministry said. The inspection teams fanned out from Beijing last month to assess compliance with environmental laws and regulations in the provinces and regions of Shanxi, Liaoning, Anhui, Jiangxi, Henan, Hunan, Guangxi and Yunnan.
Their checks uncovered illegal quarrying and mining activities, encroachments on protected wetlands and a persistent problem of "fake" or "perfunctory" compliance by local governments, the ministry said in a notice on Friday. The teams, part of an initiative begun in 2016, have the power to summon officials of any government department or enterprise, and run spot checks without warning.
The public are also encouraged to submit complaints. A golf course built in a protected nature reserve on the edge of a lake in the southwestern province of Yunnan was among the violations state media have publicised over the past few weeks. In addition to the 95 detained, the ministry said more than 1,700 officials of the ruling Communist Party had also been summoned to explain themselves, with 844 held accountable for violations. Total fines amounted to 191 million yuan ($30 million), it added.