BEIJING, June 30 China's supreme court has
appointed a senior judge to handle environmental cases as the
environmentally challenged country bids to get tough on
polluters and improve the way its laws are enforced, an official
newspaper said on Monday.
China Environmental News, published by the Ministry of
Environmental Protection, said Deng Xuelin had been appointed as
the presiding judge of the Environmental and Resources Tribunal
of the Supreme People's Court.
The tribunal was formally established just two weeks ago.
Beijing, hit by a series of pollution scares and scandals,
has vowed to reverse some of the damage done by three decades of
untrammelled economic growth, but it has traditionally struggled
to impose its will on big industrial enterprises and the local
governments that protect them.
The report said the new state tribunal would give "unified
guidance and coordination" to the 134 specialist environmental
courts that have been set up by local governments, noting that
the procedures used to handle such cases was "very informal".
Litigators have long complained that lawsuits launched
against polluters have been routinely rejected or even ignored
by local courts, many of which lack the capacity and the
independence to take on powerful government-backed firms.
China has promised to create legal channels allowing members
of the public to take action against firms that break the law,
but environmental officials say they lack resources and are
already overwhelmed by the number of cases.
Earlier this year, China passed amendments to its 1989
Environmental Protection Law, giving local governments greater
powers to fine, shut down and even imprison violators.
(Reporting by David Stanway; Editing by Paul Tait)