SHANGHAI (Reuters) – Chinese police have detained two people in eastern China’s Zhejiang province following the death of an inspector looking into environmental violations, the China Daily reported on Monday, citing a government statement.
The inspector, Chen Ben, was part of an enforcement team organised by the environment and police bureaus in the city of Wenling. He was investigating a pollution case when he was run over by a vehicle driven by the two men on Saturday evening, the paper said.
China has traditionally struggled to ensure its environmental policies are properly implemented at the grassroots level, with local governments sometimes reluctant to crack down on profitable industries.
Inspectors routinely face obstruction and cover-ups, as well as threats of violence. In August, environmental protection officers in Shaanxi province were beaten up by construction workers during an inspection into pollution.
The central government has sought to beef up its supervisory powers and to crack down hard on violators, making greater use of police, judicial and anti-corruption bodies to punish environmental crimes.
Beijing has also sought to strengthen its traditionally weak and understaffed environmental bureaus and increase punishments for firms that refuse to cooperate with visiting inspectors. It says enforcement rates are improving.
China prosecuted more than 3,500 people for pollution-related crimes in the first 10 months of the year, up nearly 40 percent on a year ago.
Reporting by David Stanway; Editing by Paul Tait