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Zhejiang to introduce China's first provincial law to empower river chiefs

Xinhua | Updated: 2017-03-28 19:34

HANGZHOU -- A draft regulation on river chiefs has been submitted to the standing committee of the people's congress of East China's Zhejiang province for deliberation on Tuesday.

It is China's first local law at the provincial level to regulate rights and responsibilities of river chiefs in cleaning up and protecting water resources, according to the law committee of the congress.

Zhejiang began testing this new system in 2008 and expanded it across the whole province from 2013. It has 61,000 river chiefs at various levels.

"It is necessary to inscribe recent experiences and policies into law," said Ding Zunian, member of the law committee.

According to Ding, river chiefs above county level are also responsible for supervising government officials. Moreover, river chiefs are supervised by governments above county level.

China first appointed local government officials as river chiefs in 2007 to address a blue algae outbreak in Taihu Lake, Jiangsu province.

The practice was later adopted in several regions rich in water resources to ensure strong enforcement of environmental policies and enhance coordination.

Government officials are eligible for the river chief position at the provincial, city, county and township levels, and heads of provincial regions are responsible for all rivers and lakes in the region.

The responsibilities of the river chiefs include water resource protection, pollution prevention and control, and ecological restoration. Their job performance is assessed and they will be held accountable for environmental damage in the bodies of water they oversee.

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