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Legislature Focuses Supervision on Workers' Safety, Environment
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The Chinese legislature, the National People's Congress (NPC) Standing Committee, has saved people's lives through its law enforcement inspections that led to closures of many deadly mines and polluting plants.

"The law-enforcement supervision work by the NPC Standing Committee is aimed at defending people's fundamental interests," said Wu Bangguo, chairman of the NPC Standing Committee, in his work report to a plenary meeting of the Fourth Session of the 10th NPC on Thursday.

The NPC Standing Committee inspected the implementation of six laws, including law on work safety and law on water pollution prevention and control in 2005, the top lawmaker said.

"Work safety incidents, which always involve losses of human lives, attracted wide public attention. Therefore, in 2005, the NPC Standing Committee examined the work safety law implementation from various aspects," Wu said.

The NPC Standing Committee found a series of protruding problems in coal mine production safety area by hosting more than 60 forums and organizing lawmakers to conduct field study in more than 70 enterprises and over 30 coal mines, he said.

To better resolve the problems, the legislature raised a series of suggestions to the government "to reduce the number of severe gas explosion cases in two years, improve work environment of small coal mines in three years, and expand the industrial injury insurance system in all the country's the high-risk industries by the end of 2006," he said.

As a result, the government closed down 5,243 illegal coal mines and coal mines without enough work safety facilities last year. And government officials have withdrawn 562 million yuan worth of stakes from those illegal coal mines following the order from the Central Government.

Environment protection

Resources saving and environmental protection are China's basic national policy and concerned with the overall situation of economic and social development, Wu said.

"Last year, the NPC Standing Committee set the issues relating to resources and environment on top agenda on its supervision work. The legislature assigned a group to examine the law enforcement on water pollution prevention and control, and heard and discussed the report on current energy security situation made by the State Council," said Wu.

The legislature found that the strain in water supply and demand and the severe water environmental deterioration should be blamed for the unreasonable economic structure and the extensive economic growth mode. It urged governments at all levels to solve the problems by fully implementing the conception of scientific development, he said.

After considering legislature's suggestions, the State Council has mapped out measures to transfer economic growth mode, improve innovation capacity, speed up economic structure adjustment and vigorously develop circular economy, so as to relieve the pressure from resources strain and environmental deterioration.

Facing the issues of resources strain and environmental deterioration in the past few years, the Fifth Session of the 16th CPC Central Committee put forward the goals of reducing energy cost for per unit GDP by 20 percent in the coming five years and curbing the environmental deterioration trend by and large.

Letters of complaint

Wu said last year, the top legislature heard and discussed ten reports made by the relevant departments of the State Council, the Supreme People's Court and the Supreme People's Procuratorate for the promotion of the rule of law, Wu said.

In addition, the legislature also inspect the implementation of agriculture law, statistics law, labor law and lawyer law in 2005, said Wu.

"The NPC Standing Committee also paid great attention to letters and visits and put the complaints widely aired by ordinary people as its supervision priorities," said Wu.

In 2005 alone, the legislature received more than 130,000 letters and 58,000 visits. Urban housing demolition and migrant worker's wage in arrears were the issue frequently mentioned in the letters and visits.

Therefore, the NPC Standing Committee, together with the relevant departments of the State Council, promoted the settlement of the issues. By January 2006, local governments and enterprises all over the country returned a total of 167.3 billion yuan of wage in arrears, accounting for 90 percent of the total defaulted wages before 2003, Wu said.

(Xinhua News Agency March 9, 2006)

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