Chinese polluters to face fines of up to US$290,000 under new soil protection law
Draft legislation seeks to tackle problem of contaminated land, though government warns clean-up process will be slow and costly
China will fine polluters up to 2 million yuan (US$293,000) for dumping untreated contaminants into the soil, according to a new draft law submitted to the country’s parliament, the official China Daily reported on Friday.
After years of overmining, unregulated industrial discharges and excessive use of pesticides and fertilisers, China has promised to take action to tackle polluted soil, although the environment ministry has warned that clean-up efforts will be slow and costly.
As well as spelling out punishments for offenders, the new law will make state funds available to support clean-up projects and establish a nationwide monitoring network, the report said.
The environment ministry said on Wednesday that China allocated a budget of 14.6 billion yuan to cover soil remediation projects over the past year, but with 3.3 million hectares of contaminated farmland already identified, the total bill could reach as much as 1 trillion yuan.
The draft law also allows authorities to establish “priority protection” areas and ban grazing or the growing of certain crops in heavily polluted regions, as well as encourage crop rotation, reforestation and the creation of wetlands, according to the official People’s Daily.
It will also enable authorities to ban construction projects around schools, hospitals or residential areas in order to mitigate potential pollution risks, People’s Daily said.
The standing committee of China’s parliament, the National People’s Congress, is currently in session and will also deliberate on amendments to water pollution legislation aimed at cracking down on those caught tampering with monitoring data.