China to Strengthen Environmental Law Enforcement
    2014-03-08 23:27:49     CRIENGLISH.com         Web Editor: Wang


 

China's law makers are set to vote on the amendment of the Environmental Protection Law this year. The Central government has also declared a "war on pollution" and pledged greater reforms to move the world's second-largest economy towards a more balanced growth model this year.

CRI's Cao Yuwei brings you more about China's efforts on fighting air pollution.

Reporter: The first case of a Chinese citizen filing a lawsuit against a local government agency over air pollution last month triggered debate on the effectiveness of the current environmental protection law.

A resident of Shijiazhuang, Hebei province, Li Guixin, demanded that the environmental department take measures to improve air quality in the city and pay 10 thousand yuan in compensation for his economic losses caused by air pollution.

Professor Cao Mingde with China University of political Science and Law, says the suit is reasonable.

"Haze is a kind of air pollution, so from this aspect the environmental department is responsible. At least it's their prescribed duty to implement relative laws and regulations, especially those concerning air pollution. Meanwhile they should make sure local enterprises fulfill their obligations."

However, Professor Cao adds that it is hard to say how much compensation Li Guixin should receive under the current Law on the Prevention and Control of Atmospheric Pollution, which was passed 14 years ago by the National People's Congress.

NPC deputy Zhang Zhao'an, whose suggestion at the ongoing national legislative session is a "Clean Air Act," says the current law is no longer suitable nowadays.

"Thinking behind the atmospheric law back then cannot meet the current situation, especially with regards to the management measures, public participation, and the dynamics of enforcement."

He is also calling on the environmental authorities to strengthen law enforcement.

China's Environment Minister Zhou Shengxian has pointed out a number of obstacles when it comes to tackling air pollution.

"First, some companies illegally and stealthily emit pollutants. They fail to fulfill their social responsibilities. Secondly, some local governments protect those companies. They are still deeply influenced by the mindset of GDP growth-worship. Thirdly, the environmental authorities' supervision is not sufficient and in some cases nonexistent."

But he admits that efforts of some local governments in trying to curb haze have seen favorable outcomes.

Environment bureaus in many places recently conducted a series of spot-checks and investigations among local enterprises.

For instance, Beijing conducted a "midnight action" investigation in the past week.

Inspectors issued fines to a central heating company in north Beijing's Changping district for emitting a huge amount of toxic gases.

The amount of sulfur dioxide released by the company was found to be six times the emission standard.

Leader of the inspection team Zhong Chonglei announced the punishment after carrying out the spot-check.

"According to the new Air Pollution Control Regulations, the company will be fined 80 thousand yuan, and ordered to rectify the problem. We will keep on tracking the company's progress. If it is found to be over-emitting after a second check, the fine will double."

Zhong says the punishment is heavier after the new regulation took effect last Friday.

Beijing authorities will conduct week-long inspections at the beginning of each month this year.

For CRI, I'm Cao Yuwei.

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