06/20/2013, 00.00
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China to impose death penalty on polluters

After 30 years of unbridled industrial development, China plans to punish polluters with the death penalty in the worst cases in which public health and nationality security are threatened. In 2011, carbon emissions killed almost 10,000 people.

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) - China's government has redefined it anti-pollution laws to allow courts to issue death sentences against polluters who "harm public health and national security."  Data from some NGOs indicate that 10,000 people died prematurely in 2011 from coal emissions.

"With more precise criteria for convictions and sentencing, the judicial explanation provides a powerful legal weapon for law enforcement, which is expected to facilitate the work of judges and tighten punishments for polluters," Xinhua said, citing a government statement.

The environment has become a major thorn in the government's side. Over the past 30 years, its policy has been one of unbridled industrial development, causing huge damage to the environment.

In recent years, ordinary Chinese have begun to turn against it. Protests have become increasingly violent, and in some cases people were successful in getting polluting factories and plants shut down.

However, the situation cannot improve without new environmental policies. In Beijing and in the country's north, air pollution levels reached record levels last winter, forcing people to stay indoors for many days in a row. Pollution has also disrupted food production in major ways, with food harmful to human health ending up on store shelves.

According to Greenpeace, some 9,900 people died in Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei province in 2011 because of pollution from coal-powered plants.

In addition to deaths, the survey by the environmental group shows that harmful emissions have also caused 11,110 cases of asthma and 12,100 cases of bronchitis.


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