Work to remove air quality monitoring stations from local government control is almost complete, the Ministry of Environmental Protection said after officials in northern China were accused of tampering with pollution data.
The plan is to separate all 1,436 monitoring stations nationwide from provincial, city and county bureaus and place them under the operation of companies that will report directly to the central government.
Preparation work to become independent has been completed at 92 percent of stations nationwide, while all stations in 18 areas, including Beijing and Sichuan and Henan provinces, have transferred to third-party companies, the ministry said on Monday.
The independent monitoring network will be expanded to cover water and soil by 2018, the ministry said, adding that China plans to build a comprehensive environmental monitoring and information sharing network by 2020. The network is intended to prevent inference from local authorities and guarantee authentic data, the ministry said. "It is important to keep monitoring data accurate to better serve the government to make measures to effectively control air pollution," Chen Jining, the minister of environmental protection, said earlier this year.
The ministry has had 10 inspection teams in 20 provinces since Friday. The teams are reviewing and comparing monitoring data from official, public and corporate sites as well as checking whether construction sites have the necessary permits and targeting companies that produce excessive emissions.