Taking aim at illegal land reclamation
China’s coastal regions were asked to rectify improper and illegal land reclamation practices after inspections exposed issues that could cause damage to marine ecosystems.
Inspectors from the State Oceanic Administration reported issues to 11 provincial-level regions, including Shanghai and Guangdong, urging them to correct problems such as a high vacancy rate of reclaimed land and an improper project approval process.
Since 2002, Tianjin has reclaimed 27,850 hectares, yet the vacancy land amounted to 19,202 hectares, resulting in a vacancy rate of 69 percent.
The vacancy rate in other regions, including east China’s Zhejiang and Shandong provinces, was also found to be above 40 percent.
The inspectors said that local authorities behaved improperly in project approval. Projects covering reclaimed land were segmented into smaller sections to bypass state-level examination and approval, inspectors found.
Local authorities also failed to contain nearshore pollution and protect the marine ecology amid lack of supervision.
In 2017, inspectors were dispatched to 11 provincial-level regions, namely Shanghai, Tianjin, Guangdong, Shandong, Zhejiang, Fujian, Hebei, Hainan, Jiangsu, Liaoning, and Guangxi.
Concrete actions were taken to address the issues in question. By the end of April 2018, south China’s Guangdong Province settled 305 cases transferred by the inspection team, 19 of which were placed on file and settled with punishment.
Environmental protection has been high on the agenda of the Chinese government, with authorities stepping up efforts to punish those who violate environmental laws. In January this year, China introduced its toughest regulation on land reclamation along the coastline, vowing to demolish illegally reclaimed land and stop approving general reclamation projects.