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Revised pollution law praised

By Zheng Jinran (China Daily Europe) Updated: 2016-05-29 15:00

China's revised Environmental Protection Law has done a good job reducing pollution since taking effect on Jan 1, 2015, by providing new enforcement tools, including higher fines and other legal sanctions, according to an assessment released on May 23.

The revised law, regarded as the strongest ever in China, allows environmental authorities to levy fines on polluters on a daily basis with no cap, which has brought swift corrective action, the assessment says.

At least 85 percent of the companies surveyed after being fined said they had stopped their excessive emissions. In some regions, 95 percent said they had.

Last year, environmental authorities fined 715 companies a total of 569 million yuan ($86.8 million), the Ministry of Environmental Protection says.

The assessment was conducted by researchers from the Institute of Environmental and Resource Law at China University of Political Science and Law, environmental groups and experts at other law schools.

Revised pollution law praised

More than 2,600 complaints of excessive discharges were made in 2014 against the 100 companies surveyed. That number dropped dramatically to 205 complaints in 2015 after the revised law took effect, the assessment said.

Experts conducted a series of surveys looking at 100 major companies that were being closely monitored by state or provincial environmental watchdogs from December to March, says Wang Canfa, the team leader and a professor at the institute.

"The survey found that the majority of respondents, especially the state-owned companies, have increased their awareness of pollution reduction, and have installed special equipment," says Tong Guangfa, a participant and professor of law at Beijing University of Agriculture.

In addition to the daily fines, the revised law also gives stronger tools to the authorities - for example, tougher legal sanctions under which polluting companies' managers can be detained and prosecuted quickly, and the forced suspension of production. These were "the big achievements in the implementation", the assessment said.

"However, the revised Environmental Protection Law still faces difficulties, especially at the grassroots level, because of limited funds and other resources," says Zhang Shijun, a professor at Shandong University Law School, who was in charge of drafting the chapter on problems in implementation.

Minister of Environmental Protection Chen Jining says he, too, has seen weak implementation at the grassroots level because of such things as a lack of vehicles for investigators in some areas. The ministry will take measures to resolve such issues and continue to push forward the implementation, he says.

zhengjinran@chinadaily.com.cn

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