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Pollution Figures to Be Made Public
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China's environmental departments and polluters will each have to publish information regarding environmental degradation and pollution, according to a draft measure tabled yesterday by the country's environmental watchdog.


"Environmental departments at all levels are required to make public 17 categories of information including laws, regulations, policies and standards regarding environmental protection," said the draft issued by the State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA).


The measure, which will come into effect on May 1, 2008, tailed a State Council decree on Tuesday that sought to create additional state transparency by requiring all departments to report information more openly.


The draft measure would require environmental information within 20 working days and to be made easily accessible to the public. Furthermore, any request for information from the public must be handled within 15 days.


"Polluting companies, after being black-listed, have 30 days to publish information concerning their bad discharges in local media," states the regulation. This draft comes amidst a rising trend of pollution-related lawsuits that expand by 30 percent annually.


Pan Yue, vice director of SEPA, said China's current environmental regulations were lacking in terms of "information transparency," a gap that is not conducive to public participation in environmental protection.


"The public's right to know, to participate and to supervise should be fully considered in environmental protection. Massive public participation is needed," Pan argued. "People should participate more than planting trees or cleaning rubbish. They should take part in policy-making."  


Since February last year, SEPA has declared a war on excessive pollution and public mood, stopping 43 projects worth a total of 160 billion yuan (US$20.7 billion) after public outcry at the environmental impact these would have.


(Xinhua News Agency April 26, 2007)

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