China has halted industrial projects across eight regions after scores of factories failed environmental inspections despite a recent anti-pollution drive by the government. On Wednesday, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao chaired a meeting of the cabinet that warned “the present situation remains quite grim” and government efforts to reduce pollution faced “big difficulties.”
Many factories have been openly flouting environmental regulations with the connivance of local government. Premier Jiabao has suspended approval for future projects for three months in order to send strong signals to the provincial governments.
15 of the 22 facories inspected in Baiyin city were found to be dumping toxic waste in the Yellow River, whilst in Wuhu 60 of 76 had dodged pollution checks.
China aims to cut major pollutants by 10% in the next three years but seems unlikely to meet that target despite appalling levels of pollution in some areas. Last week we reported that it is estimated that 750,000 people die annually in China from pollution related illnesses, a figure the Chinese government has attempted to suppress.