Updated: 07/03/2014 19:31 | By Agence France-Presse

China sets up specialised pollution tribunal

China's Supreme Court has set up a special tribunal to deal with environmental cases, it said Thursday as Beijing pushes a green agenda with public discontent over pollution rising.


China sets up specialised pollution tribunal

A tourist stands at the top of Jingshan Hill beside the Forbidden City as heavy air pollution continues to shroud Beijing on February 26, 2014 - by Mark Ralston

Three decades of rapid and unfettered industrial expansion have taken a heavy toll on the county's environment, and Communist leaders have been concerned by an increasing number of angry protests over the issue.

Recent studies have shown that roughly two-thirds of China's soil is estimated to be polluted, and that 60 percent of underground water is too contaminated to drink. Meanwhile residents of cities such as Beijing and Shanghai are regularly confronted with hazardous smog levels.

Premier Li Keqiang announced in March that Beijing was "declaring war" against pollution, and a series of measures have been announced, but questions remain over enforcement.

The tribunal -- which will have local equivalents -- will hear cases involving air, water and land pollution and the protection of mineral and natural resources such as forests and rivers, Sun Jungong, spokesman of the Supreme People's Court, said at a briefing.

Its establishment "will have positive and profound impact on... protecting the people's environment rights and interests... preventing further deterioration of the environment and improving China's international image concerning environment protection," he told reporters.

The move followed an April amendment to China's environmental protection law -- the first in 25 years -- imposing tougher penalties and pledging that violators will be "named and shamed".

But holding polluters legally accountable has proved difficult in a country where local governments are often focused on driving growth.

"There are indeed some problems in the acceptance, trial and enforcing of (environment) cases," Zheng Xuelin, chief of the environment tribunal of the Supreme Court, told reporters.

"Courts want to hear some cases but dare not to or become reluctant to do so due to certain interferences," he said.

Fewer than 30,000 environment cases a year were accepted by Chinese courts from 2011 to 2013, said Zheng, out of an average 11 million total cases annually. 

Latest Photo Galleries on xinmsn

NEWS VIDEOS

MORE NEWS VIDEOS

facebook recommendations

LIVE NEWS RADIO STREAMING

  • 938 Live

    938LIVE is Singapore's only English news and talk station which transmits round the clock with an engaging and enticing spread of programmes on current affairs, health, business and lifestyle as well as news every half hour until midnight.

  • Capital 958


    95.8FM城市频道的前身是"第三广播网"。上个世纪30年代末,新加坡就有中文广播,一路走来经过不少政治,社会局势的改变,中文广播在本地一直扮演举足轻重的角色。