China has sacked 16 government officials and is investigating several more over the unauthorised construction of a 20 sq km lake for a businessman’s pleasure in south-central Hunan province.
Among those dismissed were two officials from the province’s animal husbandry and fisheries bureau, as well as the deputy mayor of Yiyang, a city close to the lake. Investigations into 11 others are ongoing.
The lake was created by building barriers near Dongting Lake (pictured), the country’s second-biggest freshwater lake and a flood basin for the Yangtze River, Reuters reported.
It made the area more prone to flooding, the Beijing government said.
The Hunan government issued a statement, saying the businessman began construction in 2008. The work came to the attention of officials six years later, but they failed to act.
The government said it dismantled the barriers in June, and has since questioned 65 officials over the matter.
The case comes amid a central government crackdown on unregulated construction on China’s lakes and rivers, often involving small, substandard dams and turbines.
As with the illegal lake on Dongting, the dams are criticised for causing flooding in surrounding areas and damaging local fish populations.
Image: Dongting Lake bridge (Chlich/Wikimedia Commons)