Aerial photo taken on June 30, 2017 shows the Wushan County seat on the upper Yangtze River, in Chongqing Municipality, southwest China. (Photo: Xinhua)
National legislators are mulling a draft law to protect the Yangtze River that may introduce a national coordination mechanism that will unite efforts from across the river basin to protect Asia's longest waterway, a senior environmental official said.
In December, the draft was deliberated for the first time by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, the top legislative body.
It will be handed to the committee for a second reading before the end of the year, Bie Tao, head of law, regulations and standards at the Ministry of Ecology and Environment, said.
Bie said the draft echoed President Xi Jinping's call for concerted efforts to protect the Yangtze and refrain from excessive development, and adhering to the cooperation of areas across the entire river basin and their concerted efforts in river protection will be one of the key principals guiding the draft.
"From the perspective of the integrity of the ecological system and the entirety of the Yangtze River Basin, the management of mountains, water, forests, land and lakes will be planned as a whole," he added.
To break down barriers between different government bodies and regions and address overlapping responsibilities in the river's protection, a national coordination mechanism is being written into the draft that will integrate Yangtze management capabilities from different tributaries, reaches and both sides of the river, he said.
The Changjiang Water Resources Commission, which is headquartered in Wuhan, Hubei's capital, is in charge of managing the river basin. However, as an agency of the Ministry of Water Resources, it has limited oversight of the area.
In addition to the commission, the ecology and environment watchdog and the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development are also involved in water management. For example, the ministry is responsible for the treatment of sewage.
Qu Jiuhui, head of an academic committee at the National Joint Research Center for Yangtze River Conservation, said overlapping responsibilities have made integration of the management of the aquatic environment, the ecosystem and resources a challenge.
In previous interview with China Daily, Qu－a member of the Chinese Academy of Engineering－said each of the government bodies has its own monitoring system. That has led to difficulties in coordinating their contributions of data and resources and rolling out policies and measures to address problems.
He called for a body that would rein in the different regions and government bodies to help promote conservation on the river.
According to Bie, the draft law will also include a unified territorial space planning system.
While an even stricter ecological and environmental standards system will be established for the basin, information concerning surveys of resources, environmental monitoring, early warnings of ecological and environmental risks and an environmental emergency system will be shared and made public in a concerted manner.