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Lawmakers call for ecological laws to protect environment

By Rong Xiandong and Liu Kun (
Updated: 2014-03-06 22:48

National lawmakers from Central China's Hubei province have called for drafting laws on ecological compensation mechanisms to better support the country’s efforts to protect the environment.

Zhang Weiguo, mayor of Shiyan city of Hubei and a national lawmaker, said that the most important task for the establishment of such mechanisms is legislation.

He made the remarks while attending a panel discussion of the annual parliamentary session in Beijing on Thursday.

Shiyan city serves as a core water source area on the middle route of China's massive South-to-North Water Diversion Project.

The project, one of the country's largest infrastructure schemes, is designed to take water from China's longest river, the Yangtze, to drought-prone areas in the north, including Beijing.

Ecological compensation mechanisms set up by the Ministry of Finance, National Development and Reform Commission and the Ministry of Environmental Protection have failed to coordinate the interests of parties concerned because they have yet to become laws, Zhang said.

Echoing Zhang's opinion, Zhou Hongyu, vice-chairman of the Hubei provincial legislature, said the current environmental laws need to be improved and relevant laws need to be drafted on ecological compensation mechanisms.

Officials and experts have proposed a national strategy to develop the ecological economic zone of Hanjiang River, the longest tributary of the Yangtze River, to better protect the water source area of the huge water diversion project.

The water diversion project, which supplies water for other regions, is expected to bring many challenges to the area in terms of industrial development and environmental protection, experts agree.

For example, the water source area can only develop ecological-friendly but less profitable industries such as the tourism and services sectors because it needs to ensure the quality of water.

"People in the water source area need to get compensation for the sacrifice they have made or their enthusiasm for environmental protection would be dampened," said the mayor of Shiyan city.

Compensation can come in the forms of fiscal subsidy from the government, technological and industrial support from beneficiaries of water diversion and benefits from market mechanism, Zhang noted.

Zhou, together with many experts, urged experiments with ecological compensation mechanisms this year as the mechanisms had been discussed for several years.

"It might be difficult and complicated to put ecological compensation mechanisms into practice, but we do need to get started now," Zhou said.