China / Politics

Top legislature reviews waterways law

By AN BAIJIE ( Updated: 2014-04-21 19:11

China's top legislature is scheduled to review a draft law on protecting and making full use of the country's limited waterways this week.

The draft, with seven chapters and 48 rules, is being deliberated during the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress's bi-monthly session from Monday to Thursday.

The draft stipulates that both local and central governments are responsible for the protection and maintenance of the country's waterways.

Local governments tend to shirk their responsibility for maintaining waterways with an excuse of fund shortages, so it is urgent to make a law to stipulate their obligations, said Xie Manying, vice-director of the waterways transportation bureau with the Ministry of Transport, during a news briefing on Friday.

She said China's inland waterways have shrunk from 170,000 km five decades ago to the current 130,000 km due to a lack of protection.

Without legal protection, many waterways have been destroyed by activities including the construction of dams and removal of sand from riverbeds, she added.

Permanently fixed fishing gear and the farming of fish or aquatic plants in waterways are banned under the draft law, which also rules that no one can pour gravel, soil or any other waste into waterways or their surrounding areas.

The State Council, China's Cabinet, enacted a regulation on waterways in 1987. The regulation no longer meets the needs of the current situation along with the economic and social development, said Dong Chaojie, an official from the Legislative Affairs Office of the State Council.

According to the draft, punishments for illegal activities that damage waterways will be enhanced, she said.

The nation's waterways are of great importance to regional development from the eastern to the western region, from coastal areas to the inland, and along major rivers and land transportation lines, according to a regular executive conference held early this month at the State Council.

On May 24, 2012, the Legislative Affairs Office of the State Council solicited public opinion on the waterways draft law in a bid to better protect waterways and ensure navigational safety.

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