New air pollution law is 'China's strictest'

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Shanghai Daily, July 27, 2014
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Bonfires and straw burning are being banned in Shanghai under what an official has called "China's strictest air protection law."

The new legislation, passed by lawmakers yesterday and to be introduced on October 1, aims to tackle pollution caused by burning items such as leaves, straw, plastics, rubber and tar.

At present, straw burning is only prohibited near airports, roads and certain other areas.

Around 10 percent of Shanghai's pollution is said to be caused by straw burning in the city's suburban areas.

Figures are not available for the percentage of pollution caused by bonfires.

Anyone found burning materials on bonfires will face a fine of up to 20,000 yuan (US$3,229) under the law. Farmers burning straw will be fined 200 yuan.

While Shanghai introduced an air protection law in 2000, with an amendment in 2007, it has long lagged behind new challenges to the city's air quality, said Ding Wei, director with the legal commission of the Shanghai People's Congress.

Ding said the new law is the strictest in China.

In part, that is due to harsher punishments for polluters with no upper limit on some fines.

And under the new law, businesses found polluting the city's air will be fined daily until they meet standards, Ding said.

"We'd like to fine violators to bankruptcy, if necessary, to deter them from polluting the air," Ding told a press conference after the law was passed.

Polluters also face having power and water supplies suspended, and afterward incur higher electricity and water charges.

In another clause, the owner of any motor vehicle or ship can be fined on the spot if polluting black smoke is spotted in emissions. Residents are urged to report incidents, Ding said.

According to earlier reports, vehicle and factory emissions account for 50 percent of the city's air pollution, followed by dust from construction sites (10.5 percent), power stations (7.3 percent) and straw burning (10 percent). The remainder was said to be from other provinces.

Under the new law, Shanghai will work with other Yangtze Delta cities to fight air pollution, Ding told Shanghai Daily. They will share daily air quality forecasts and crack down on straw burning on their borders.

In 2013, Shanghai recorded 124 polluted days.

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