The proposed amendment to the current water pollution law will
feature stiffer penalties and more protection of drinking water
sources, an insider said yesterday.
The suggested new content includes tighter limits on total
discharge levels, a permit system for pollution discharge and the
setting up of an emergency plan, an official from the State
Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA), who asked not to be
The draft amendment was approved on Wednesday at the State
Council's executive meeting presided over by Premier Wen
It is now awaiting reviews by the State legislature, the
Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, submitted by
the State Council.
China Daily learned the revised draft had been extended
to 83 articles from 62 in the current law.
"More emphasis has been put on individual responsibility for
water pollution control," the source said.
It refers to pollution dischargers and relevant government
personnel, the source said.
Zhou Shengxian, the minister of the environmental watchdog, had
earlier vowed to use an "iron fist" to tackle the growing water
"The water pollution situation is critical. New problems keep
arising before old ones are tackled," Zhou was quoted by the Xinhua
News Agency as saying.
The discharge of pollutants into rivers and lakes has aroused
public concern over water safety and supply, he said.
The SEPA received 1,814 public petitions in the first half of
the year, each demanding an improved environment, up 8 percent on
2006, Xinhua reported.
Ma Zhong, an environmental professor at the Beijing-based Renmin
University, has long appealed for the law to be amended.
Inaugurated in 1984, the Law of the People's Republic of China
on the Prevention and Control of Water Pollution was revised
slightly in 1996.
"The maximum penalty of 1 million yuan ($131,000) should be
increased," Ma said.
He said the penalty was just a fraction of the money firms saved
by discharging waste illegally.
Ma also criticized the current water pollution law for failing
to focus on prevention and control rather than accommodating
economic development. In the past two years, environmental problems
occurred on average every two days, and 70 percent of them were
water related, he said.
Ninety percent of the nation's rivers that pass through cities
are contaminated, resulting in 300 million farmers running short of
drinking water and 400 million urban residents having no fresh air
to breath, the SEPA said.
(China Daily July 6, 2007)