The Ministry of Environmental Protection has called for its affiliated organizations to cease commercial environmental evaluation services by the end of 2016.
Such government affiliated organizations are institutions and agencies officially appointed by the local Environment Protection Bureau to environment impact identification, assessment, inspection, testing, and certification approval.
These institutes dominate the EIA market, making it easy for them to trade favors between the government departments associated with the EIA process.
Eight organizations directly under the ministry are required to break away from providing such services for construction projects by the end of the year, according to a statement from the ministry on Wednesday.
Cheng Lifeng, head of the ministry's department of evaluation of environmental impact, said the plan was aimed at avoiding corruption and conflict of interest in environmental evaluation and ensuring a healthy development of the sector.
In addition, the statement said employees of the organizations affiliated with the ministry are not allowed to be involved in evaluation services for construction projects.
But some environmentalists have expressed doubts as to whether simply forcing government-backed EIA agencies to disassociate from government organs could lead to a healthy market, as rampant violations still exist at every point in the chain.
The public cannot be left in the dark about the EIA process and oversight, experts said, "The EIA should be conducted by a third party that consists of EIA engineers, residents' representatives as well as NGOs, to ensure the authenticity of the report, and the relevant departments should organize public hearings once the report has been approved."