BEIJING - Chinese lawmakers Monday began reviewing a draft revision of the Law on Water and Soil Conservation, which would provide comprehensive protection for land and water resources in planning, controls and monitoring.
The current law, adopted in 1991, had lagged behind the fast economic and social development and environmental requirements, said Zhou Ying, Vice Minister of Water Resources, in a report to the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, China's top legislature.
China's loss of soil and water, reportedly among the worst in the world, has "posed severe threats to the ecology, food safety and flood control," she said.
Zhou cited problems in soil and water preservation, including inadequate coordination and monitoring, a lack of measures to prevent and control water and soil loss, and increased production and construction activities.
The draft, with a new chapter on planning, specifies that water administration departments at or above county level should draw up plans for land and water conservation and see to their implementation.
It stipulates an investigation system for cases of land and water loss.
"The location of a production or construction project should avoid key areas for land and water conservation. If a project has to be conducted in these areas, construction techniques should be improved in order to reduce surface disturbance and vegetation damage," says the document.
According to the draft, forests and grasslands should not be harmed in areas that suffer from severe land and water loss, and crop planting is banned on slopes of a 25-degree gradient.
The draft stipulates that water departments are responsible for monitoring local land and water conservation and must regularly publish the type, size and distribution of land and water losses.
More than 37 percent of the land in China, or 3.56 million square kilometers, suffered from water loss and soil erosion, according to a survey released by the Ministry of Water Resources in 2000.