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China gropes for ways to tackle water pollution

(Xinhua)

08:38, June 06, 2012

KUNMING, June 5 (Xinhua) -- With a landmark civil case set to test compensation procedures for Chinese communities that have been affected by water pollution, work continues across China to balance the country's booming industrial growth with environmental concerns and the rights of its citizens.

The Intermediate People's Court of the city of Qujing in southwest China's Yunnan province said Tuesday that a case involving two non-governmental organizations (NGOs) demanding compensation from a chemical company will be heard soon, although the court date is not yet known.

The two NGOs have demanded compensation worth 10 million yuan (1.58 million U.S. dollars) from the chemical company, which was found to have dumped 5,000 tonnes of chromium-contaminated waste near a reservoir from April to June 2011, resulting in the deaths of 77 livestock in Qujing.

The civil case, which was filed last September and accepted by the court in October 2011, will mark the country's first public interest litigation (PIL) filed by grassroots NGOs, according to experts.

If the NGOs win the case, the compensation will be used to rehabilitate polluted areas in Qujing.

It is possible that similar cases will start popping up around the country, as an amendment to China's Civil Procedure Law will open legal options up to more people.

The Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, China's top legislature, read a draft amendment to the Civil Procedure Law for the first and second time last October and this April.

According to the draft, "legally registered organizations and social groups" are entitled to file lawsuits in instances in which polluting the environment or other behavior infringes on the public interest.

Water pollution cases are frequently reported across the country, especially in the industrial eastern and coastal regions.

A statement published by the Anhui Environmental Protection Bureau on May 31 said that 14 of the Huaihe River's 19 tributaries have suffered from heavy pollution.

The residents of the town of Wujiang, located in Hexian county in east China's Anhui province, have also dealt with the effects of water pollution. Anhui Huangxing Chemical Industry Co.,Ltd., a local chemical company, has been accused of polluting the town's water.


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