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China Solicits Public Opinion on Water Pollution Law

China's top legislature on Wednesday publicized a draft of the Water Pollution Prevention and Control Law, which promises heavier punishments for water polluters and irresponsible officials, to solicit public opinion.

The General Office of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC) publicized the draft, which has been submitted to the 29th session of the NPC Standing Committee for the first review, inviting the public to convey their opinions through the standing committees of provincial or municipal people's congresses, the Law Committee of the NPC or the NPC website.

All the opinions will be collected and submitted to the law committee by October 10, according to the NPC general office.

According to SEPA statistics, the country saw 1,406 environmental pollution accidents in 2005, 49.2 percent of which involved water pollution.

The draft law stipulated the amount of pollutants discharged into water by a factory should not exceed the limit set by national or local regulations, and offenders will be fined 100,000 yuan (US$12,500) to one million yuan.

Those who discharge pollutants to drinking water sources will be fined 100,000 yuan to 500,000 yuan, the draft amendment said.

Environmental protection officials who fail to set up a water pollution emergency response scheme or delay reporting and hide water pollution accidents will receive administrative punishments or even criminal charges, according to the draft bill.

Factories that reject supervision and examination from environmental protection departments will be fined 10,000 yuan to 100,000 yuan, the draft amendment said.

After the first reviews, the NPC made the decision to publicize the draft law to solicit public opinion and amendments based on public opinion will be submitted for further review.

(Xinhua News Agency September 6, 2007)

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