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China pushes stricter environment law
October 21, 2013, 10:09 am


Visibility dropped to less than 50 metres in Harbin on Monday [Xinhua]

Chinese governments at all levels will have to bear more responsibility in improving the environment, according to a draft amendment of the country’s environmental protection law.

Both provincial and central government should increase financial input in improving the environment, says the new amendment, which is set for its third reading on Monday.

The environmental protection law has not been revised since it took effect in 1989.

The bill aims to curb China’s deteriorating environment and has been submitted to the bi-monthly session of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPC).

The Asian nation earlier this year announced that it would allocate over three trillion yuan ($489.3 billion) to combat the growing pollution of the country’s water and environment.

China’s Harbin city and a large area of northeast China have been shrouded in thick smog since Sunday forcing schools and highways to close in Harbin today.

The density of PM 2.5 (airborne particles measuring less than 2.5 microns in diameter) exceeded 500 micrograms per cubic metre on Monday morning in downtown Harbin.

Visibility also dropped to less than 50 metres in Harbin, the capital of Heilongjiang Province, home to around 11 million people.

Meteorological authorities issued their highest alert for the heavy smog in several cities in the province at 9 am Monday, forecasting the smog will continue in the next 24 hours.

The Taiping International Airport in Harbin was also closed and public buses stopped running.

The start of the winter heating season triggered the large-scale foggy weather, meteorologists said.

Meanwhile, the new amendment says the state should support the development of the environmental protection industry with policies and measures in finance, taxation, pricing and procurement.

The country has set a target of raising $729.7 billion for environmental protection industries by 2015.

The draft amendment also increases the role of environmental protection in evaluating a government’s performance.

The results should be open to the public, says the draft amendment.

A recent report from the National People’s Congress (NPC) Environment and Resources Protection Committee warns that if China continues to push its industrialisation and urbanisation drive, environmental pollution and ecological degradation may worsen.

A new clause added on Monday says the State Council and government departments would have to weigh environmental impact while drafting state policies.

Those responsible for environmental pollution accidents by producing or using pesticides that are banned by the government will also face harsher punishment.

The state will also establish a system to survey, monitor, evaluate and restore the soil environment.

Source: Agencies