Smog issues spark debate

  • Focus on solving pollution, not on fines: deputy

By Cao Siqi
(People’s Daily, Global Times)

BEIJING: Environmental protection has become a hot topic during this year’s two sessions, which kicked off on Tuesday, with several legislators and political advisers raising their proposals on the issue.

Zong Qinghou, founder and chairman of Chinese beverage giant Hangzhou Wahaha Group and a deputy to the National People’s Congress (NPC), urged authorities to solve pollution problems instead of focusing on fees and penalties.

Zhu Lieyu, a lawyer and NPC deputy, suggested that the Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP) should report their work to the NPC and the minister should resign if their work fails to pass the NPC’s scrutiny.

Environment quality issues like smog, water and soil pollution will be heated topics in the two sessions,” Ma Jun, director of the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs, told the Global Times, adding that air pollution remains a big problem in China and citizens expect the ongoing sessions to agree on practical solutions to the problem.

China‘s Ministry of Science and Technology announced Tuesday that it has started planning a five-year air pollution prevention and control project and a draft blueprint has been published on the ministry’s website, soliciting public feedback.

According to the draft, the focus of controlling air pollution should shift from simply responding to heavy smog to a coordinated scheme to prevent heavy density of PM2.5 particles and ozone, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

Air pollution monitoring and management will shift from the city to the regional level, the draft said, adding that the project will be carried out starting this year until 2020.

Ma said that topics involving the revised Environmental Protection Law are also expected to be prominent at the two sessions.

At a press conference on Monday, MEP vice-minister Pan Yue said that environmental authorities have imposed 7.23 million yuan ($1.44 million) in fines and referred 107 cases to police since the revised law took effect on January 1.

Pan stressed that even though the Supreme People’s Procuratorate and the Supreme People’s Court have released their judicial interpretations on environmental crimes, some provinces and regions, where pollution problems prevail, have failed to file environmental cases