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Govt policy moves from past week

Zhang Yunbi
Updated: Dec 15,2020 07:09 AM    China Daily

Draft to improve permits for pollutant discharge

Progress was made in further regulating pollutants produced and discharged by industries after an executive meeting of the State Council, China's Cabinet, on Dec 9 approved the draft of a regulation on permits for pollutant discharge.

The meeting, presided over by Premier Li Keqiang, approved measures marking a key step toward the final formulation of the regulation. In 2018, the Ministry of Ecology and Environment devised the regulation and made its first draft public to canvass people's opinions.

Under the system outlined by the regulation, all business entities and individuals that plan to discharge pollutants into the environment must apply for a permit from environmental protection authorities in advance.

In recent decades, authorities have stepped up supervision of the discharge and treatment of wastewater, gas and solids, and scrutinized incidents and accidents resulting from unlicensed, illegal discharges.

However, many problems have still to be addressed, such as the prevalence of unlicensed activities or discharges that exceed the limits stipulated by the permits, officials said.

Such violations impede the operation of the permit system, the Ministry of Ecology and Environment said in a 2018 document explaining the regulation.

The draft passed by the meeting on Dec 9 proposed that dischargers should be sorted into categories based on the amount of pollutants they produce, the volume discharged and the environmental impact.

The meeting required standardization of the examination and approval procedures overseeing applications for discharge permits, and entities that discharge pollutants are ordered to establish their own systems to note their environmental management and to disclose information about discharges.

Supervision of such discharges should be stepped up during and after the discharge process, the meeting decided, adding that penalties for illegal acts involving pollutant discharge will be strengthened and measures should be taken to increase the cost of breaking the law.

Punitive measures will include penalties based on the number of days of unlicensed discharge, suspension of production, rectification, and the suspension or termination of entire operations, according to the meeting.

Liaoyang ordered to better protect cultural legacy

The State Council has included Liaoyang city, Liaoning province, in the list of national historical and cultural cities, and asked the city to bolster protection of the local cultural heritage.

The city has 705 cultural relic protection sites, including seven national-level key cultural relic protection sites.

It is also home to frescos unearthed at ancient tombs.

According to a State Council circular on Dec 7 that approved Liaoyang's inclusion in the list, the city "has a long history and enjoys a brilliant traditional layout and historical features".

The city's cultural relics are rich and diverse, clues to its development are clear and it has "important historical and cultural value", the circular added.

To keep Liaoyang's layout stable, the circular called for properly coordinated construction and protection of the historical and cultural resources.

Liaoyang should improve its urban environment, renovate ancient buildings, maintain the traditional and dimensional layout, and the natural landscape should not be changed, it said.

Construction in the city should not run counter to its historical identity, and ancient buildings should not be damaged, relocated or demolished without permission, it said.

The document also called for strengthened protection of the city's historical and cultural resources, and asked the city authorities to tap into their value and significance via in-depth research.