The State Council, or the central government, on Wednesday set targets for environmental protection of next five years and fifteen years.
The State Council discussed and adopted in principle the resolution on stepping up environmental protection and implementing the scientific conception of development at an executive meeting, presided over by Premier Wen Jiabao.
The meeting purposed environmental protection objectives for the next five years and fifteen years, saying that up to 2010, the environmental quality of those heavily-polluted cities and regions should be improved and ecological deteriorating tendency should be curbed; and up to 2020, China's environmental quality and ecological status should be improved remarkably.
The meeting held that the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and the State Council always paid great attention to environmental protection and did a great deal in this regard, so that the environmental quality is stable nationwide and the environmental quality of some cities have improved.
Nevertheless, the meeting said, it has to be admitted that the environmental protection situation is still stark in China. The discharge of major pollutants exceeds the bearing capacity of environment. With the economic growth in future, the resources and energy consumption will go on rising and a pressure on environmental protection work will be intensified.
Official statistics indicate that over one-third of China's land territory has been ravaged by acid rains and most of its major rivers are polluted. More than 300 million rural residents lack access to clean water.
Water pollution accidents occurred frequently. The State Environmental Protection Administration on Wednesday confirmed that the Songhua River in northeast China suffered a major water pollution incident owing to the explosion of a petrochemical plant at the upper reaches.
The meeting acknowledged that it is one of the crucial measures to beef up environmental protection for implementing scientific conception on development, for building up environmentally-friend society and accomplishing the harmonious coexistence of humans and the nature.
The meeting proposed seven measures for fulfilling the five-year and fifteen-year environmental protection goals.
First, the meeting required a coordinated growth among economy, society and environment, holding that different areas should work out their own development plans based on their environmental bearing capacity, ecological status and population.
Second, tough environmental issues, such as water and air pollutions, and nuclear radiation, have to be resolved.
Third, legislation on environmental protection has to be enhanced. The legislation on recycling economy and ecological protection should be sped up. The legal aid system for pollution victims should be established and the penalty for environmental laws violation be intensified.
Fourth, the pollutant discharge total volume should be supervised and contained and the permit card system for pollutant discharge should be improved. Any pollutant discharge without permit is punishable.
Fifth, an environmental protection investment system should be established, so the government, enterprises and whole society can all participate in environmental protection investment.
Sixth, environmental protection work will be put into the appraisal system for local officials, who will be ascertained responsibilities if they fail to effectively protect environment.
Seventh, public opinions will be heard when going in for environmental protection legislation and environmental protection planning.
(Xinhua News Agency November 24, 2005)