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China makes moves on environmental protection in the court room

By Zheng Jinran | | Updated: 2017-01-04 20:55

China has seen progressive improvement in protecting the environment due to how the prosecuting authorities in 13 pilot regions have handled laws on 4,378 environmental public-interest cases, of which, 495 have been prosecuted in court by the end of 2016.

Since July 2015, China has conducted a pilot project in 13 regions, including Beijing, where the prosecuting authorities file public-interest cases on environment issues or give suggestions to the involved governments on environmental pollution and supervise them to correct the behavior and fulfill their duties.

The prosecuting authorities have performed their supervision duties and motivated involved parties to protect the public interest and the environment, said Wan Chun, director of the research department of the Supreme People's Procuratorate on Wednesday.

The top procuratorate has released information on five cases including the nation's first environment public-interest case after the program started, and Wan said these cases could be used as guidance for similar cases in the future.

For example, Xu Jianhui and Xu Yuxian, two villagers in Yaoguan county, Changzhou city in Jiangsu province, had washed cans that previously contained resin and other chemical products from 2010 to September 2014, and the wastewater with toxic components contaminated the underground water and soil.

They have received their criminal penalties but the contaminated environment has not been restored. However, the city's prosecuting authority won a public-interest case to make them pay for the costs of the restoration process.

On April 14, 2016, they were sentenced to hire a professional agency to deal with the contaminated soil, water and residue, and also pay 1.5 million yuan for the environment recovery. It's the first environment public-interest case filed by a prosecuting authority in China.

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