11/18/2008, 00.00
CHINA

Corruption charges in China’s Environmental Protection Ministry

Two top officials are under investigation for “complacency” in approving environmental impact reviews. One of them is a close aide to Pan Yue, poster boy for the fight against industrial pollution.
Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Two top officials with the Environmental protection Ministry have been accused of taking bribes in exchange for ‘green approval’ of big infrastructure projects.

Li Jianxin is a former personnel chief at the State Environmental Protection Administration, which became a full ministry early this year.

Wang Panpu is general secretary of the China Environmental Culture Promotion Association and is known for his close ties to Deputy Environmental Minister Pan Yue. He has been placed under shuanggui, a form of Communist Party detention and investigation.

The new ministry is considered the government’s main arm against the country’s serious pollution, often caused by the collusion of business interests with local government.

In the first nine months of this year the number of public requests for government reviews of environmental disputes soared by 170 per cent compared with the same period in 2006.

Investigations found that many assessment agencies closely connected with green authorities were allowed to profit from favourable decisions.

China’s media are now wondering how widespread graft is in an agency that is supposed to impose strict environmental protection rules. They are also asking themselves whether Mr Pan, who is the poster boy for the fight against pollution and graft, is involved in the matter and by how much.

Ministry sources said the outspoken Mr Pan has kept a low profile recently.

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