|Jan. 4, 2018 -- The central environmental inspection team exposed 1,022 cases of pollution in the Tibet autonomous region during a month of random checks, the Ministry of Environmental Protection said on Wednesday.
Polluters involved in 784 cases paid fines totaling 28 million yuan ($4.3 million), while 148 government officials were held accountable during the inspection, which began in mid-August.
Despite achievements made in environmental protection in recent years, they did not meet the central government's requirements and the public's expectations, the ministry said.
Inspectors also found that efforts to increase tourism in some areas had harmed the environment.
For example, illegal infrastructure for visitors like a viewing deck, parking area and toilets were constructed in the buffer region of the Nam Co Nature Reserve, and untreated sewage was found to have been directly discharged inside the reserve.
In addition, inspectors found that six of the 10 existing sewage treatment plants were not operating properly, leaving part of the sewage untreated.
Thirty-five percent of complaints were about garbage, including poorly operated landfill sites, the ministry said.
Inspectors said some leaders failed to realize the importance of Tibet, thinking that a little pollution or damage would not have a huge influence on the vast region. This meant they did not give sufficient attention to environmental protection, leading to unbalanced development of the economy and ecology.
Tibet has made progress in promoting the construction of transportation infrastructure to improve livelihoods, but supervision has been loose on some projects.
For example, since 2013, construction had started on 242 rural roads before environmental impact assessments were passed. Twenty of those projects still have not passed.
The government in Tibet is required to hand in a plan for solving the problems within 30 days to the State Council. The plan will be released to the public.
Central environment inspection teams visited 31 provincial regions, of which Tibet was among the final group, exposing a total of 135,000 pollution problems and holding over 18,000 officials accountable, data from the ministry showed.