Shanghai’s battle against air pollution needs to be backed by legal penalties for violators, construction and greenery authorities say.
The Shanghai Environmental Protections Bureau issued a four-tier air pollution alarm system this week and asked for cooperation from different government departments.
However, construction and greenery authorities said they can’t punish violators due to lack of supporting laws.
The alarm system of blue, yellow, orange and red will be issued according to different levels of air quality.
The yellow alarm, issued when the Air Quality Index is predicted to be between 201 and 300 in the next 48 hours, means the city will partially close construction sites. Factories discharging pollutants will be suspended and earth-moving vehicles banned from the roads.
However, the construction sites and companies which own these vehicles will only be notified of the suspension. Neither the construction or greenery authorities have the right to force them to stop operation.
“The Shanghai Construction and Transport Commission will issue notices to related construction sites once the air pollution alarm is set off,” said Zhu Jiangang, director of public security division of the commission.
“We have a team to do spot checks but they can only remind the sites to stop operation and can’t carry out any action as there is no support from the law,” Zhu said.
“The sites which refused to obey will not be fined or receive other punishments.”
Officials from the Shanghai Greenery and Public Sanitation Bureau also echoed the lack of legal support to enforce regulations.
“There is no such law saying a vehicle is banned from the roads due to bad air conditions,” said Tang Jiafu, general engineer of the bureau.
“The maximum we can do is to publicly criticize the managing companies. We don’t have the right to stop the vehicles carrying construction materials,” Tang said.
“Even the traffic police won’t have the right to do so.”
You Minjian, a political advisor, also raised a similar proposal to set up a system to supervise the ban when the air pollution alarm is issued.
The Shanghai Environmental Protection Bureau said they are drafting an improved version of the Air Pollution Prevention and Control Law to help government departments.