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China Publishes Forest Fire Control Regulation for Public Discussion

The Chinese government on Wednesday published a draft revision of its forest fire control regulation with stiffer penalties and stricter requirements for fire prevention.

Members of the public are invited to make recommendations and submissions on the draft published at the website of the Legislative Affairs Office of the State Council,

The submission process will last till May 7.

According to the draft, forest fires falls into four categories, with level four, the most serious, defined as fire claiming more than 30 lives and affecting more than 1,000 hectares of forests.

All persons or vehicles entering forest areas during dry, windy and high-temperature weather, the highest risk factors for forest fires, must first attain approval from forestry departments above county level, it said.

In the case of forest fires, officials should evacuate the public where lives and property are threatened, while working out plans to extinguish the fire.

The draft also bans fire control departments from commissioning people with disabilities, pregnancy, or people under the age of 18to help with fire fighting.

It said forestry officials and civilians lighting fires or using explosives in forest areas without official approval, or deliberately causing delays in reporting or extinguishing forest fires could face criminal charges and fines up to 50,000 yuan, compared with the existing administrative punishments and fines up to 500 yuan.

A total of 9,260 forest fires were reported in China last year. None of them fell into the category of level four.

The government has decided to publish draft laws submitted to the National People's Congress (NPC) Standing Committee for review, to allow the public to make submissions and recommendations before they are passed.

It has just published on Sunday the draft food safety law, aimed at raising food production standards and regulating supervision.

(Xinhua News Agency April 24, 2008)

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