Over 20,000 held accountable for environment

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For a single province, inspection usually lasts a month. Inspectors interview provincial and city environmental regulators, carry out field trips and talk to concerned members of the public.

Their reports are shared with the Organization Department of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, which is responsible for assessing senior officials.

Li said about 18,000 people were disciplined or punished for environmental problems discovered in the inspections. About 2,5000 local officials, including three at provincial level, were found also responsible during the follow-up examinations of those problems.

All provincial-level regions have set up special teams, mostly headed by the governor or chief of the CPC provincial committee, to oversee the problems found in the inspections, Li said.

More than 500,000 environmental cases that caused public grievance have been dealt with over the past two years, he said.

A total of 26 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities have set up provincial inspection teams to scrutinize environment issues in lower-level regions, he said.

Central environmental inspections are seen as the latest weapon in China's fight against soil, air and water pollution, which gave environmental officials more power to hold officials accountable for environmental problems.

Inspectors collect reports on environment problems and send them to local governments, which must correct the problems and submit a report back within 500 days, followed by a progress report six months later.

Chinese Minister of Environmental Protection Li Ganjie (C) takes questions at a press conference on the battle against pollution on the sidelines of the first session of the 13th National People's Congress (NPC) in Beijing, capital of China, March 17, 2018. (Xinhua/Shen Hong)

Inspectors are dispatched by the Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP) and also include the Communist Party's anti-graft watchdog and personnel department.

Four rounds of central environmental inspections have been launched since 2016, covering all provincial-level regions while achieving satisfactory results, Li told a press conference on the sidelines of the annual session of the national legislature.

BEIJING, March 17 (Xinhua) -- More than 20,000 Chinese were held accountable for environment-related misconduct over the past two years, Environmental Protection Minister Li Ganjie said Saturday.