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Regulations issued to punish officials for environmental damage
By admin on 2014-12-02

    BEIJING, Feb. 20 (Xinhuanet) -- The Chinese government on Monday issued a set of regulations aiming to punish government officials for their malpractice or corruption which has resulted in environmental damage to the country.

    "The move is a major step taken to enforce environment-related laws and help officials heighten their sense of responsibility in protecting the environment," said Li Yufu, vice minister of Supervision, at a press conference.

    The set of regulations, consisting of 16 articles, spells out aseries of penalties ranging from disciplinary warnings to expulsion from public employment, and also applies to government-appointed officials in enterprises.

    China stepped up law enforcement in the environment sector in the wake of the major Songhua River pollution in November last year, which affected water supplies for millions of people living in both China and neighboring Russia.

    Soon after the disaster, Director of the State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA) Xie Zhenhua was dismissed and a number of officials were punished.

    "The environmental status in China is still very severe, and human factors contribute much to the situation," said Li.

    Many localities pursue economic growth at the cost of the environment and even formulate "local regulations" to block enforcement of environment-related laws, he said.

    The officials who were found to be responsible for environmental damage often go unpunished due to the lack of specific regulations targeting them, he said.

    According to the newly-issued regulations, the officials who fail to order enterprises which cause widespread pollution to stop production or close down will be disciplined or even dismissed from their post.

    And the officials who fail to report or fabricate reports after major environmental incidents will also be severely punished.

    "The implementation of the regulations marks a turning point for environment-related law enforcement in China," said SEPA Deputy Director Zhu Guangyao.

    He disclosed that SEPA and the Ministry of Supervision will soon jointly publicize a list of heavy polluters and will directly supervise their rectification.

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