Amendments to China's 1989 environmental protection law that will mean stiffer punishments for polluters have been submitted to the country's parliament for deliberation, official news agency Xinhua reported late on Monday.
The National People's Congress (NPC), China's legislature, will consider the amendments during its latest bimonthly session, which runs through Thursday, Xinhua said.
The first change to the legislation in 25 years would give legal backing to Beijing's newly declared war on pollution and formalize a pledge made last year to abandon a decades-old growth-at-all-costs economic model that has spoiled much of China's environment.
The amendments, now in their fourth draft, are expected to enshrine environmental protection as the overriding priority of the Chinese government and will include provisions to help it make powerful industrial interests comply with pollution rules.
The current drafts would give environmental bureaus the power to close down and confiscate polluting equipment and would allow for company bosses to be detained for up to 15 days if they failed to submit environmental impact assessments or refuse to comply with orders to suspend production, Xinhua said.
It also includes legal protections for whistleblowers, the report added.
Despite promises to change China's economic model, the country's top planning official told parliament on Monday that the focus on growth was still restraining efforts to cut emissions and energy use.
Xu Shaoshi, director of the National Development and Reform Commission, said China still required a "stronger policy mechanism" to encourage change, according to a separate report by Xinhua.