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China"s top legislature ordered local lawmakers and judicial authorities on Monday to combat air pollution by strengthening the rule of law and urging them to make or revise related regulations and implementing strict punishment against polluters.
The Standing Committee of the National People"s Congress, the top national legislative body, convened a two-day special session on Monday to review its enforcement inspection report on the Air Pollution Control Law and draft a decision on boosting the comprehensive protection of the environment.
"Every provincial-level people"s congress should release or amend regulations on the air pollution prevention law by the end of this year in line with pollution conditions in their areas," said Li Zhanshu, chairman of the NPC Standing Committee.
He also ordered courts, procuratorates, public security bureaus and justice authorities to cooperate with environmental and ecological departments to improve judicial force against polluters, such as studying evidence collection and clarifying pollution liabilities.
Between May and June, 32 NPC deputies and the legislature"s officials, led by Li, were divided into four teams and visited eight provinces, including Henan, Hebei and Shanxi, to conduct inspections.
It aims to promote implementation of the major decisions and plans of the Communist Party of China Central Committee on environmental protection and pollution control. It will ensure comprehensive, effective law enforcement, solve prominent environmental problems of public concern and strengthen legal protection for making the skies blue again.
"What we did was to strengthen our legal inspection, using the law as a weapon to fight pollution and taking the rule of law as the force to protect blue skies," Li added.
The legal inspection is a major way the legislature plays its supervision role. It is to figure out problems that affects a law"s enforcement and push related departments to solve them by the rule of law, according to a statement from the legislature.
In this inspection, the teams exposed six major problems in enforcing the law, including irrational industrial structure, insufficient regulations to support the law, faked pollution data and a lack of supervision.
For example, the law asks the State Council to make a rule on how to issue and provide emission permits, but it has not been issued so far, Li said, calling the government to release it by the end of 2019.
It also found that although 274 cities have been given the legislation"s power, only 14 made regulations to support the law, he said.
In addition, six State-controlled data monitoring sites were interfered with intentionally more than 100 times in the year ending in April, the report said.