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Smoke billows from a factory in Dezhou, Shandong province. [Photo/China Daily]

Seven campaigns to be launched, including one aimed at black water

The head of the newly established Ministry of Ecology and Environment is emphasizing its role as a supervisor and vowed that improvements to the environment would be "obvious" in three years through at least seven specific campaigns.

"The basic responsibility of the Ministry of Ecology and Environment is supervising," Minister Li Ganjie said in an interview with People"s Daily. The ministry will emphasize strengthening four major duties - drafting ecological and environmental policy, monitoring and assessment, supervision and law enforcement and inspection - Li said.

Previously, the duties of different government bodies overlapped in the realm of ecological and environmental protection, and some supervisors were also in charge of management.

The establishment of the ministry in April changed the situation. Now, the duties that were scattered among various departments are being integrated, and supervision and management are separate, Li said.

The ministry has publicly disclosed a series of environmental violations since mid-April. On April 20, for example, it reported four violations in one day.

"Exposure is a key measure in guaranteeing the public"s right to receive environmental information and conduct supervision," Li said.

Generally, the situation for ecological and environmental protection in China is grim, though the country is able to restore the environment and stop further damage, he said.

Li said his ministry will launch seven campaigns, including those covering black, stinky bodies of water in urban areas; air pollution control; water sources protection; and Yangtze River protection and restoration.

"The ministry is seizing the moment to draft plans with detailed targets, key measures and supporting conditions. We hope to promote general improvement with major breakthroughs and ensure obvious change in three years," he said.

According to the ministry, the campaign on the treatment of black and stinky water was launched on Monday, with cooperation from the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development. The campaign will cover 36 major cities in May and June, and more in the next three years. The first batch of inspectors - 10 teams - started their work in 20 cities in eight provinces.

More action will be taken after the campaign until total success is achieved, the ministry said.

In addition to the campaigns, the ministry will continue its environmental inspections. While promoting reform concerning solid waste imports, it will also strengthen supervision of such waste and intensify pollution control with respect to heavy metals, Li said.

According to the institutional reform plan of the State Council, China"s Cabinet, the Ministry of Ecology and Environment will shoulder some of the responsibilities that previously belonged to six government departments, while keeping the original responsibilities of the Ministry of Environmental Protection.

Li said shifting the ecological duties of three departments - the NDRC, State Oceanic Administration and South-to-North Water Diversion Office under the State Council - to the new ministry has been completed, and the shift involving two other bodies has been partly finished.