Authorities should impose severe punishment on people responsible for pollution to help prevent environmental damage, says an article on Xinhua Net. Excerpt:
Three people responsible for contaminating water with arsenide in Linyi, Shandong province, have been found guilty and sentenced to 11, 6 and 5 years in prison. The court that passed the judgment also ruled that the three should pay the State 37.14 million yuan as compensation.
It is an exemplary ruling for environmental protection, making serious pollution incidents a criminal offence, according to law. The Linyi court ruling also shows the State has strengthened management on environmental pollution.
Existing environmental laws do not have the provision of handing down severe punishment for serious pollution. They see excessive discharge of pollutants as an illegal practice rather than a crime.
Most of the time, environmental protection authorities impose only a small fine on guilty enterprises. And the fine is seen as pollution discharge fee.
The comparatively low fine enterprises pay for polluting the atmosphere prompts them to continue their illegal practices. Some prefer to pay a fine rather than check pollution. A few of them even regard the "pollute first, pay later" as a shortcut to cutting down production costs and pursuing maximum profit.
Environmental pollution has become one of the greatest problems for the country's economic development. It endangers public health and security, too.
The authorities can help prevent serious pollution only by increasing the fine for and imposing severe punishment on those responsible for environmental damage.
(China Daily 09/09/2009 page9)