Tougher punishments for polluters proposed

Updated: 2013-06-27 02:11

By ZHAO YINAN (China Daily)

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Draft may be better deterrent, but environmental NGOs unhappy

The draft amendment to the Environmental Protection Law has proposed the strictest-ever punishment for polluting companies in China.

Companies that illegally dump sewage and fail to modify their discharge and emission systems to meet the required standard are subject to fines based on a consecutive daily rate, according to the draft amendment to the Environmental Protection Law.

The draft was proposed for a second reading on Wednesday.

If passed, it would introduce the toughest penalties ever imposed on polluting companies. Current regulations on illegal dumping and emissions generally have a ceiling on penalties. For instance, the country's Law on Prevention and Control of Air Pollution stipulates that polluters are subject to a one-time penalty of up to 200,000 yuan ($32,540).

Environmental protection law requires companies to discharge sewage according to an amount approved by the government, but the financial penalties against those that fail to meet the standard have long been criticized because they don't deter businesses from polluting.

Cao Mingde, an environmental law professor at China University of Political Science and Law, said the draft, which allows the financial penalty to accumulate at a daily rate, will motivate polluters to improve their discharge and purification systems in a timely manner.

According to the draft, companies and other organizations that intentionally escape supervision and discharge excessive pollutants may be prosecuted. Those whose activities are not serious enough for criminal prosecution will be punished according to the law on penalties for administration of public security, for instance being put under administrative detention.

Besides harsher punishment, the draft introduces measures to encourage law-abiding and environmentally friendly enterprises. The government is urged to offer preferential policies in tax and loans to enterprises that have a good record in reducing pollution and protecting the environment.

The proposed regulation on tax and loans is accompanied by a government policy that the State Council issued earlier this month, which says that loans should not be made to projects that haven't passed the environmental assessment, and no electricity or water should be offered to such projects.

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