BEIJING, Aug. 27 (Xinhua) -- The Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC) Monday started its first reading of a draft amendment to the Environmental Protection Law.
"The Environmental Protection Law, which went into effect in 1989, was created during the primary stage of China's reform and opening-up and does not yet fit current economic and social requirements," said Wang Guangtao, chairman of the NPC's Environment and Resources Protection Committee.
From 1995 to 2011, the NPC received a total of 78 proposals to revise the law, Wang said at a bimonthly legislative session that will be held from Monday to Friday.
According to Wang, the draft highlights the government's responsibility and liability in the environmental protection as well as the improvement of environmental management regulations, the improvement of the country's environmental quality and the enterprises' responsibility in pollutant prevention and control.
The draft adds a clause that calls for governments and environmental protection departments to release information concerning environmental quality, pollution-related accidents and the collection and use of pollutant discharge fees to the public, as well as allows the public to request related information.
Moreover, since the discrepancies among the environmental data released by different governmental departments on a same subject have caused some negative effects, a national system will be established to streamline the environmental monitoring and evaluation practices and ensure the consistency of the data, the draft says.
People in charge of the monitoring facilities will be held responsible for the authenticity and accuracy of the monitoring data, the draft says.
The draft also forbids depositing solid waste, containing matters such as heavy metal and detrimental substances, on farmland.
The draft stipulates that utilization of natural resources should follow the principle of reasonable development and should only be carried out without prejudice to the biodiversity and ecological security.
Furthermore, the draft grants support in terms of fiscal budget for the environmental management and drinking water protection in rural areas.
The draft calls for controlling the total amount of major pollutants discharged. Regions that exceed pollutant discharge limits or fail to meet environmental standards will face suspensions for new projects that could cause more pollution.
The total amount control system has already been included in the laws on the prevention and control of water contamination and air pollutant respectively, said Wang.
Wang said drafting of the amendment started from January last year, after three years of research and evaluation work led by his committee from 2008 to 2010.