A MAJOR steel plant in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region spews thousands of tons of fluoride every year, which has caused bone deformities among local herders and has killed thousands of sheep.
The impact on livestock is so great that many herders have decided to leave their flocks, the only source of income in the region. Those who remain have seen their living standard spiral downward.
Although the local government has protested the pollution for almost 20 years, the problem has not been resolved.
The cause is the deeply-rooted protectionism of some government departments which show no concern for people’s well-being and the environment.
Like many large State-owned enterprises, the steel plant in Inner Mongolia is subject to the direct administration of a department under central government control.
The local government’s complaints are thus ineffective unless it can persuade the central government department in charge of the plant to take action.
Although it may be the case that some large State-owned enterprises need more financial and technical resources to improve waste treatment, some firms with adequate resources use their supervisory departments as a shield to dump wastes freely and escape the enforcement efforts of local governments.
This problem is not checked because of the attitude and practices of some officials who ignore the well-being of local residents while making efforts to fulfil their profit targets.