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New law to protect Yellow River Basin ecosystems

Updated: Feb 24, 2021 By CAO YIN China Daily Print
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Aerial photo taken on Aug 14, 2019 shows the Qiankun Bay of the Yellow River on the border between Yanchuan county, Northwest China's Shaanxi province, and Yonghe county, North China's Shanxi province. [Photo/Xinhua]

A law to improve the conservation of Yellow River Basin ecosystems and promote regional economic development is being drafted to strengthen protection of the watercourse and prevent environmental hazards, China's top legislature said on Tuesday.

The legislative work has been put on the work agenda of the Standing Committee of National People's Congress this year and government departments are preparing to draft the law, Wang Fengchun, an official from the NPC's Environmental Protection and Resources Conservation Committee, said.

Similar legislation aimed at protecting some other river basins across the country is also being prepared, he said.

Wang said that while environmental protection and green development are the top priorities in making such laws, "we will also take ecological and economic benefits into consideration to improve the green transformation of economic and social development in all respects in the river basins."

To ensure the laws can better respond to public concerns and solve environmental problems more effectively, he said lessons will be drawn from the drafting of the Yangtze River Protection Law-which was passed late last year-with a cross-department legislative team established and opinions solicited from more walks of life, both online and offline.

The Yangtze River Protection Law was the country's first law made for a specific river basin.

Aimed at promoting well-coordinated environmental conservation and avoiding excessive development, the law will come into force on March 1.

As well as strengthening protection of the ecology of Asia's longest river, the law will also restrict exploitation of shorelines and impose tougher punishments for a number of violations that cause environmental hazards in the river basin.

Fishing, for example, will be banned in all of the Yangtze's natural waterways, including its main tributaries and lakes.

Several officials from environment-related authorities pledged at a news conference on Tuesday to try their best to make sure the law can be implemented effectively.

Ma Yi, head of the office for dealing with Yangtze River work at the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, said it will guide local government departments in the implementation of the fishing ban, helping to save endangered species in the river.

Before the top legislature began making laws to improve the ecological conservation of China's river basins, it made great strides in fighting air, water and soil pollution through legislation, with inspections by law enforcement agencies stepped up.

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