Coordinated action to help protect water ecosystems

Updated: Oct 13, 2022 By HOU LIQIANG China Daily Print
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The Ministry of Water Resources and the Ministry of Public Security have pledged to enhance coordination as they endeavor to crack down on violations in rivers and lakes, many of which jeopardize aquatic ecosystems and threaten people's safety and property.

The two ministries will establish an interdepartmental meeting mechanism, according to a guideline unveiled on Monday on intensifying river and lake conservation.

Regional water resources authorities and public security organs will hold such interdepartmental meetings twice a year, it said. Aside from communicating information about work on river protection, they will mull over how to resolve thorny problems they meet.

"In case of major issues and emergency situations, such an interdepartmental meeting can be held at any time," the document said.

Another major concern in the guideline is about strengthening cooperation on law enforcement.

Local water resources authorities will transfer all suspected criminal cases to public security organs in a timely manner, it said, adding they should ensure that those who bear criminal liability will be criminally punished rather than only given fines.

Water resources departments across the country will provide necessary technical support when police investigate cases related to river and lake management, it said.

Wu Wenqing, chief planner at the Ministry of Water Resources, said that despite achievements the ministry has made in cracking down on water-related violations, some criminal violations still occasionally happen across the country, which not only adversely affect flood control, ecosystem security and water supply, but also threaten people's lives and property.

Some criminal activities, for example, have damaged dikes on rivers and lakes as well as reservoir dams, he added.

From 2018 to 2021, water resources authorities across the country unearthed a total of 89,600 violations related to water resources management, he said. Of these, roughly 54 percent happened in rivers and lakes.

"The guideline is expected to help identify and stop violations in a timely manner by beefing up coordination between the two ministries," he said.

The efforts of the two ministries ensure greater criminal punishment for offenders and a greater deterrence to potential offenders.

Yu Qiyang, director of the policy, law and regulation department at the Ministry of Water Resources, said the two ministries will also roll out joint training programs and boost personnel exchanges to help their employees improve their law enforcement capability.

How to conduct investigations, collect evidence, transfer cases and decipher which laws are violated in each case are among the priorities in the joint training, he said.

In a campaign launched by the two ministries and the Ministry of Transport targeting illegal sand mining in the Yangtze River Basin, Zhang Xiaopeng, deputy head of the public security administration at the Ministry of Public Security, said police across the country have investigated 698 criminal cases, arrested 2,581 suspects and busted 242 gangs since January 2021.

The Ministry of Public Security will strengthen patrols along key parts of major rivers and lakes as it beefs up interdepartmental cooperation, Zhang said. More facilities for law enforcement will be built to help identify and crack down on crime.

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