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China preparing new environment law – experts
April 15, 2014, 1:55 pm

The northeastern city of Harbin was forced to close schools due to the heavy smog on October 22 [Getty Images]

The northeastern city of Harbin was forced to close schools due to the heavy smog on October 22 [Getty Images]

Chinese authorities are currently preparing a new environment protection law that empowers the government with greater authority to punish violators and restrict industry in polluted areas, experts associated with the new legislation have said.

The past year has been a difficult one as several cities across China have grappled with severe smog and poor air quality.

The central government said it will monitor the total emissions of each province. The air quality in Chinese cities is often poor with readings for PM 2.5 pollution sometimes 26 times as high as the 25 micrograms considered safe by the World Health Organization.

In December, it fined eight cities for failing to check smog and air pollutant levels.

A month later, Beijing drafted anti-pollution measures to save its citizens from the choking smog with the government announcing a $1.65 billion fund to fight air pollution and set up an early warning system that measures the number of pollutants in the air..

But the new law currently under consideration will mark the first major amendment to the 1989 Environmental Protection Law and give the government a legal footing to shut down polluting factories which do not meet air quality guidelines, and punish officials who do not enforce new legislation.

Some analysts believe that air quality and the fight against pollution will become Beijing’s priority next to – or even higher – than economic reform.

Meanwhile, Chinese scientists announced on Tuesday that they are near completion of a mechanism which monitors water quality “from the source to tap”.

The system, which is to be deployed by 2015, was announced in the wake of the discovery of higher-than-normal benzene levels in the tap water in Lanzhou, capital of the northwestern province of Gansu.

Source: Agencies