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Balancing growth with protection the key

China Daily | Updated: 2024-05-21 08:07

Ships dock at a tourism port on the Yangtze River in Zigui, Hubei province, in April, 2020. [Photo/Xinhua]

Illegal sand mining has hollowed out more than 2,000 mu (1.33 square kilometers) of islets and beaches in the Dongting Lake in Hunan province, which covers an area of about 2,500 square kilometers, reporters following the Fifth Central Environmental Protection Inspection Team have found.

As early as 2017, the then central environmental inspection team pointed out that large-scale planting of European black poplar in the lake posed a severe threat to the lake's ecology. The provincial authorities chalked out a plan to completely remove the European black poplar by the end of 2020. However, not soon after, the poplar was being replanted there in violation of regulations.

In September 2023, the Hunan provincial water resources department issued a document curtailing any sand mining in the Mengjiangyu mining area before the adjustment plan for the relevant nature reserves is approved, but the following month the water resources department in Lixian county illegally approved sand mining there.

To put an end to this, it is necessary to not only strengthen accountability but also to promote the optimization of related governance and cadre assessment mechanisms.

While holding those responsible for illegal activities accountable, it is also necessary to reflect on whether the local economic and social development model has truly kept pace with the requirements of environmental governance. The Dongting Lake area still depends on a traditional development of lake-related resources model. This means the related ecological protection compensation mechanisms may need further improvement, providing strong support for better balancing economic development and environmental protection.

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