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No. 2 of 2006 (General Serial No. 14): Audit and Investigation Findings on the Use of Fund for Environmental Protection of the Qinghai-Tibet Railway;S
2006-05-15日   Soure : :

Audit and Investigation Findings on the Use of Fund for

Environmental Protection of the Qinghai-Tibet Railway

(Released on March 29, 2006)

In compliance with the provisions of the Audit Law of the People’s Republic of China, the National Audit Office conducted a special audit investigation on the use of the fund for environmental protection of the Qinghai-Tibet Railway in the third quarter of 2005 with the aim of assessing the status and results of the use of this fund and putting forward recommendations in view of the existing problems so as to facilitate the increase of fund utilization effect and the environmental effect of the construction of the project. The key auditees of the audit investigation were the Ministry of Railways, the organ in charge of the construction of the Qinghai-Tibet Railway, the Qinghai-Tibet Railway Corporation, its subsidiary the General Headquarters of the Construction of the Qinghai-Tibet Railway, and the Lhasa Headquarters of the General Headquarters of the Construction of the Qinghai-Tibet Railway, all three units undertaking railway construction (referred to hereafter respectively as the Qinghai-Tibet Corporation, the General Headquarters and the Lhasa Headquarters), No. 1 Railway Surveying and Designing Institute, the principal designing department (referred to hereafter as the No. 1 Railway Institute), and 12 rail-related construction sections (a total of 486.8 km, representing 42.6% of the 1,142 km of the section from Golmud to Lhasa).

This audit investigation enjoyed vigorous support and assistance of the Ministry of Railways, the State Environmental Protection Administration, the Ministry of Water Resources, the governments of Qinghai Province and the Tibet Autonomous Region. The Audit Investigation Findings are hereby released as follows:

1. Background

The Qinghai-Tibet Railway runs from Xining in the east to Lhasa in the west for a total length of 1,956 km. The section of 814 km from Xining to Golmud was completed and put into operation in 1984. In 2001, the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and the State Council made the major decision to build the Golmud-Lhasa section of the Qinghai-Tibet Railway, which is of great significance to accelerating the economic and social development of both Qinghai and Tibet and development of the western region, promoting unity between the ethnic groups and safeguarding national security.

The construction of the 1,142 km-long Golmud-Lhasa section of the Qinghai-Tibet Railway (referred to hereafter as the Qinghai-Tibet Railway), the target of this audit investigation, started in June 2001. It is the plateau railway with the highest altitude (the highest point of the railway being 5,072 meters above sea level, 960 km of the railway being 4,000 meters above sea level), the longest permafrost section (546.4 km) and the harshest natural conditions in the world. Permafrost, high altitude and low temperatures and fragile eco-environment are the three world-class problems which have brought about extreme difficulties for the construction of the railway.

In the regions along the railway, there is an abundance of rare and precious species, the ecological type is unique and primitive and the environment is sensitive, which will be difficult to restore if undermined. It is an important task and a focus of attention both at home and abroad to effectively protect the ecological system and permafrost along the railway in the process of construction. The Central Committee of the Party and the State Council have attached great importance to the construction of the Qinghai-Tibet Railway and its environmental protection. For many times leading comrades of the central authorities went to the spot to inspect and give instructions and explicitly requested “putting environmental protection high on the agenda”. Before the inauguration of the construction, the Ministry of Railways, the State Environmental Protection Administration and the Ministry of Water Resources launched a series of special feasibility assessment and on-the-spot investigation and research on environmental protection in the construction of the railway. On the basis of this, the No. 1 Railway Institute, together with other scientific research units, drafted the Report on Environmental Impact and the Water and Soil Conservation Program (referred to hereafter as the Environmental Appraisal Reports) for the section from Golmud to Tanggula Mountain Pass (Golmud-Tangula section for short) and the section from Tanggula Mountain Pass to Lhasa (Tanggula-Lhasa section for short). After the preliminary review by the Ministry of Railways, these reports were submitted to and approved by the State Environmental Protection Administration and the Ministry of Water Resources, offering major guarantees for preventing harmful environmental impact in the process of the construction of the railway. 

In June 2001, the State Council approved the report on the inauguration of the construction of the Qinghai-Tibet Railway and the former State Planning Commission approved a total of 26.21 billion yuan of investment for the railway. In June 2005, in line with the actual situation of the construction of the project, the National Development and Reform Commission submitted to the State Council the proposed adjustment of the total investment of the railway to 33.09 billion yuan and got the approval of the latter. By the end of June 2005, rail-related projects including track-laying of the railway were completed and the station-related projects such as building railway stations, electricity and telecommunications facilities were on going. A total of 21.42 billion yuan of investment was accumulatively made.

2. The Bases for the Assessment of the Audit and Investigation

The two main bases for the assessment of this audit investigation are:

The Document of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) Asking for Instructions on the Adjustment of the Total Investment in the Project of the Golmud-Lhasa Section of the Qinghai-Tibet Railway approved by the State Council and the general estimate for the preliminary designing of the Qinghai-Tibet Railway as determined by the Ministry of Railways on the basis of the above document of NDRC.

The Environmental Appraisal Reports of the railway reviewed and approved by the State Environmental Protection Administration and the Ministry of Water Resources (the environmental protection measures put forth are summed up in six areas: protection of wild animals, protection of vegetation and landscape and water and soil conservation, permafrost protection, wetland protection, prevention and control of pollution, supervision and administration of environmental protection and publicity and education) and the opinions of the two above departments in the review and approval process.

3. The Assessment of the Audit and Investigation

The audit investigation was conducted mainly through checking related data, checking on the spot and participation of experts invited from the outside. The use of the fund for environmental protection and its effect, the implementation of measures of environmental protection and their effect were examined one by one and all the results were integrated and assessed.

The audit and investigation findings indicate that in the construction of the Qinghai-Tibet Railway, the relevant departments conscientiously implemented the concept of “the results of environmental appraisal guiding the designing, construction and environmental administration”, strictly observed the environmental laws and regulations, stepped up environmental administration, publicity and education and supervision and checking, managed and used the fund for environmental protection in accordance with the requirements of the financial regime and fulfilled the tasks of environmental protection in an all-round and effective way. The work of environmental protection in the construction of the Qinghai-Tibet Railway has been up to the requirements of the Environmental Appraisal Reports, achieved outstanding progress and accumulated precious experience for the construction of major projects and the coordination of environmental protection in our country.

(1)  On the Status of Investment in Environmental Protection

In the construction of the Qinghai-Tibet Railway, the requirements of environmental protection and the Environmental Appraisal Reports have been earnestly fulfilled and 1.54 billion yuan of related investment, representing 4.6% of the total project investment, has been planned and made for measures of environmental protection in close coordination with the construction of the projects. The General Headquarters and the Lhasa Headquarters, in compliance with the principle of “first checking the project, then calculating the cost”, appropriated timely the related fund for environmental protection. The audit investigation has not found any serious irregularities in the use of fund and the fund has been used with good results. By the end of June 2005, 1.45 billion yuan of investment in environmental protection was made with a ratio of 94.1% of investment made. It is higher than the ratio of investment made for the whole project and the goal for environmental protection in the construction period has been basically reached.

(2)  On the Implementation of the Measures of Environmental Protection

After the Environmental Appraisal Reports were approved, the Ministry of Railways initiated, with relevant departments, further on-the-spot investigation and application of scientific research results in line with the opinions expressed during the review process and implemented and optimized the measures of environmental protection put forward in these reports. Under the guidance of the reports, in the construction of the Qinghai-Tibet Railway the measures of environmental protection and the principal projects have been designed, implemented and put into operation simultaneously.

On the protection of wild animals. To mitigate the impact of the construction of the railway on the migration and normal activities of wild animals, the Environmental Appraisal Reports required that 33 passages be built along the paths of migration of wild animals. By the end of June 2005, the passages had all been completed. The on-the-spot checking of 4 of the passages during the audit found that all of them met the technical requirements of the reports.

According to the observations of the Animal Research Institute of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in the region between the Qumar River and Wudaoliang during the migration season of the Tibetan antelope from 2003 to 2005, the number of Tibetan antelopes that crossed the passages for wild animals from the Sanjiangyuan Nature Reserve into the Kekexili Nature Reserve for breeding was more than 400 in 2003, and more than 1,500 respectively in 2004 and 2005. The time Tibetan antelopes spent before crossing the railway went down from a few days to within one hour. All this shows that the passages for wild animals have shown tangible effect and the Tibetan antelopes have got used gradually to the changes in the environment after the completion of the railway.

On the vegetation, natural landscape protection and water and soil conservation. To protect the vegetation and natural landscape along the railway, the Environmental Appraisal Reports required that projects of slope protection, retaining wall, scour protection, wind and sand protection and tunnel mucking protection be built and that after the completion of the rail- related projects, the surface and vegetation of interim facilities such as the earth borrowing and dumping sites, sand and stone materials sites, auxiliary paths for construction and camps be restored with the exception of those kept for continued use during the construction of the station-related projects and operations of the railway. By the end of June 2005, the length of completed protective projects along the whole railway was more than double that the Environmental Appraisal Reports required, with the ratio of tunnel mucking protection reaching 100%. The numbers of earth borrowing and dumping sites, sand and stone materials sites and camps in the 12 audited sections were all smaller than those prescribed in the reports. The 27 protection slopes and 10 wind and sand protection facilities examined on the spot all met the technical requirements of the reports. The restoration work of 14 earth borrowing sites and 6 sand and stone materials sites have basically fulfilled the technical requirements for the restoration of the ecological environment. The on-the-spot observations and analysis of the experts invited by the audit organ have confirmed that “the water and soil erosion is light”, which indicates that the measures to prevent and control water and soil erosion in the construction of the Qinghai-Tibet Railway have been feasible and effective.

On the protection of permafrost. To protect permafrost and keep the roadbed stable and in line with the designing concept “actively lower temperature, cool the roadbed and protect  permafrost”, the Environmental Appraisal Reports required measures of replacing rails with bridges, installing heat sticks and laying stone rubble. By the end of 2005, 161 rail-replacing bridges of a total length of 68.34 km, 137.68 km of roadbed of stone rubble, 36.19 km of roadbed with heat sticks and 159.81 km of gravel protection slopes were all completed as measures of permafrost protection as required by the reports. According to the observations and analysis from 2001 to 2004 of two experimental sections of the permafrost project by the Cold and Dry Region Environment and Engineering Institute of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the Zhongtie Northwest Academy of Sciences, the measures taken effectively lowered the temperatures of the roadbed sub-soil and made the “permafrost table” in the earth beneath the roadbed rise tangibly, playing a role of protecting permafrost.

On the protection of wetland. The Qinghai-Tibet Railway crosses a total length of 65.49 km of wetland. In order to protect the wetland, the Environmental Appraisal Reports required the taking of measures of building bridges to replace rails, dumped filling of stone rubble and cutting and replacement by water-infiltrating earth in the important and sensible sections of wetland that the railway must cross. By the end of June 2005, along the railway 20 rail-replacing bridges of a total length of 10.56 km were built and a total of 72,000 cubic meters of stone rubble and water-infiltrating earth was filled. In other words, all the measures for protecting wetland required by the reports have been completed and the link of the underground water of wetland was maintained.

On the prevention and control of pollution. The Environmental Appraisal Reports requested the prevention and control of the pollution of waste and polluted water and solid waste in the construction. From the perspective of the audit investigation findings, the requirements in the reports of unified collection, transportation to the outside or treatment of pollutants have been basically met. According to the observations and checking of the quality of the water environment of the Golmud-Tanggula section conducted by the Central Station of Environmental Monitoring and Checking of Qinghai Province from 2002 to 2003 and of the Tanggula-Lhasa section conducted by the Central Station of Environmental Monitoring and Checking of the Tibet Autonomous Region in 2004, there was no tangible change in the water quality of rivers crossed by the Qinghai-Tibet Railway and nearby lakes compared with that before the construction of the railway, which is up to the quality standards required by the reports.

On the supervision and management of environmental protection and publicity and education. The work of monitoring and checking of the water environment, permafrost and water and soil conservation, the monitoring and management of the environment and publicity and education was all carried out by the end of June 2005. Along the whole railway, an organizational and management system of environmental protection was set up, a regime of responsibility system of environmental management and a regime of evaluation of ecological environmental protection were implemented and management and construction staff members at various levels were trained tier by tier in environmental protection. The supervisory unit of the environment conducted checking of construction sites 3,900 times and raised rectification requirements for environmental protection to 139 construction sites. The relevant departments in charge in Qinghai and Tibet performed checking more than 160 times on the status of environmental protection of construction sites, which played a sound facilitating role.

4. The Main Problems Discovered in the Audit Investigation and Recommendations

The construction of the Qinghai-Tibet Railway is undertaken under very special natural conditions and strict demands have been set on its environmental protection work. Moreover, this work is  arduous and difficult and there is a lack of experience, so in some respects there still remains imperfection.

One, mistakes in the calculation of engineering quantity in the working drawing, belated alteration of design of engineering measures and the shortcomings in the software for project checking and cost calculation led to discrepancies in the reckoning of the cost of some projects of environmental protection.

Two, corresponding fund was not earmarked separately for the restoration and repair of some interim projects in the construction, which has had an impact on such work.

Three, there are some weak links in environmental monitoring and checking. Some monitoring and checking projects have not yet been launched timely, which to a certain extent has had a negative impact on the comparison and analysis of the data before and after the construction.

Four, the handover and retention of some interim engineering facilities were not conducted in compliance with the regulations. For example, some enterprises undertaking the construction of projects handed over interim engineering facilities to the local government of their own accord without authorization.

Five, there is something to be desired in the Environmental Appraisal Reports too. For instance, in the reports there are not scientific grounds for definition and calculation of the investment in the environmental protection facilities.

The Ministry of Railways attached great importance to the problems discovered in the audit investigation, studied them many times and issued a notice, requesting the Qinghai-Tibet Corporation and General Headquarters to conscientiously rectify them. At present, the discrepancies in calculating the cost of projects of environmental protection have been corrected and relevant settlement program and software system have been improved. An all-round arrangement has been made for the restoration, retention and handover of the interim projects and the quantity of those to be retained is strictly controlled. And time limits for their restoration by the construction units are identified. The interim facilities which may be handed over and the responsibility for their restoration have been identified with the related departments of Qinghai and Tibet.

With regard to the problems found in the audit investigation, the National Audit Office recommends:

(1) The Ministry of Railways and the construction units continue to rectify the problems discovered in the audit investigation and start considering the work of environmental protection during the operation of the Qinghai-Tibet Railway, study in depth the possible issues of environmental protection which may crop up and formulate and perfect corresponding measures for them.

(2) The departments in charge of environmental protection should further step up their guidance, supervision and examination, facilitate all-round and effective implementation of the measures of environmental protection of the Qinghai-Tibet Railway and get ready to do a good job in checking and accepting the projects of environmental protection and water and soil conservation after the completion of the railway as well as the post-assessment of the impact on the environment after the railway comes into operation. The relevant local governments should actively assist the railway departments in well linking up the work of environmental protection between the construction period and operational period of the railway. And measures should be planned and taken early to effectively prevent any detrimental impact on the environment by the industrial development activities along the railway.

(3) The departments in charge of environmental protection should study and formulate the defining standards and calculation grounds for the fund of environmental protection measures as discussed in the Environmental Appraisal Reports. In regard to the measures of environmental protection, not only the engineering technical requirements should be put forward, but also the requirement for the volume of the fund for environmental protection should be identified as explicitly as possible so as to ensure the implementation of the measures of environmental protection.

(4) The State Environmental Protection Administration and other relevant departments should conscientiously sum up, publicize and popularize the successful experience in enhancing the organization and management of environmental protection and innovating technologies of environmental protection in the construction of the Qinghai-Tibet Railway in order to set an example and offer experience to draw on for railway construction and other major construction projects in our country.

Special Audit Findings on the Overseas Emergency

Disaster Relief Provided by the Chinese Government in the

Indian Ocean Tsunami

(Released on March 29, 2006)

In accordance with the provisions of the Audit Law of the People’s Republic of China and the request of the State Council, the National Audit Office of the People’s Republic of China and the Audit Office of the People’s Liberation Army of China, from March 2005, conducted a special audit of the provision of overseas emergency disaster relief in the Indian Ocean tsunami up till the end of February 2005.

After thy Indian Ocean tsunami occurred on December 26, 2004, the Chinese government attached great importance to it. President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao issued a series of important instructions on providing overseas emergency disaster relief. The following day after the tsunami struck, the Chinese government announced that it would offer the disaster-hit countries emergency disaster relief worth 21.63 million yuan. Along with the gradual manifestation of the gravity of the disaster, the Chinese government, on top of the first-batch assistance, added another 500 million yuan for emergency relief and disaster rehabilitation and provided US$20 million for the aid within the framework of the United Nations, making the total disaster relief of the Chinese government reach 687.63 million yuan.

The audit found that by the end of February 2005, the Chinese government, through directly offering cash, assistance in supplies and dispatching medical teams and international relief teams, had provided the biggest-scale emergency relief in the history of China to the relevant governments of the disaster-affected countries and the related organs of the United Nations. The government urgently started shipment of relief supplies by 10 plane-times to provide 663 tons of daily necessities, medicines, medical equipment and telecommunications equipment and 3,410 cubic meters of disaster relief supplies. It sent successively 7 relief teams comprising 140 people, including medical, seismological and DNA testing teams.

Moreover, to help with disaster rehabilitation, the Ministry of Commerce of China, on behalf of the Chinese government, had numerous consultations with the disaster-hit countries on the concrete arrangements of the disaster rehabilitation projects and went through the formalities of exchange of notes between the governments. By the end of February 2005, many projects were already arranged including mobile plank houses for schools, seismological monitoring and tsunami warning systems and fishing pier repair, etc. These projects will be successively executed in compliance with the relevant commitments made to foreign countries.

The audit findings indicate that the relevant Chinese departments and units, within their division of labor and responsibilities, overcame a great deal of difficulties such as time pressure, arduous tasks and heavy work loads and actively launched emergency assistance through various means. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Commerce and the Headquarters of the General Staff, through the mechanism for humanitarian assistance of emergency relief supplies, started transporting by air emergency relief supplies to the disaster-stricken regions one day after the disaster struck. The army took an active part in the relief and emergency actions. It took the army only three hours to complete the collection and loading of nearly one thousand crates (packages) of relief supplies. And in the short period of one month, the army provided a great quantity of relief supplies to 6 disaster-hit countries including Indonesia and Sri Lanka. The Ministry of Health, the State Seismological Bureau and the Chinese Academy of Sciences, after getting instructions from the State Council, provided emergency relief such as medical services, international relief and DNA testing of victims to the disaster regions. In order to unify the coordination of the emergency assistance, on January 1, 2005, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs convened an inter-ministerial coordination meeting to study and have consultations on emergency relief work in the Indian Ocean tsunami and ensured the smooth unfolding of the relief activities. This audit found that overall the emergency relief fund and supplies were well managed and the relief fund soundly spent. No irregularities of reporting fake data and fraudulently claiming, diverting, embezzling and dividing in secret fund and no losses and waste have been discovered. The audit also found that the management formalities for a small quantity of relief supplies were not quite standardized and the production dates and markings of part of relief supplies did not quite conform to the international general practice, which was not convenient for the recipient countries and the disaster victims to make out and because of this misunderstandings occurred in some cases. Once these problems were pointed out, the relevant departments attached great importance to them and took immediate measures for improvement.