Comparison and Reference of Water Pollution Prevention and Control Legal Systems between China and Bangladesh



Water pollution problem fledges its wings around the world and China and Bangladesh is also not its outreach. This paper aimed to analyze the key water legal issues faced by China and Bangladesh, as well as the institutional and regulatory arrangements in place to address these challenges. This included approaches to water resources allocation and management, pollution control and water use efficiency. The study revealed that the water sources of Bangladesh particularly inland waters are polluted by municipal and industrial sources through a combination of wastewater which is considered as the main reason for water pollution. The study also found that various waste water treatment methods are being explored by industries and various treatment plants, untreated waste water is still being discharged into the water bodies by some industries which accelerate the water pollution both in China and Bangladesh. Thus, effective environmental protection policies compliance drive will bring immense benefit to the environment. Factoring these environmental protection policies into the goals and objectives of various actors involved in environmental deterioration will help policies performance. This will serve as a step forward in the direction of ameliorating water pollution. In China, government has taken rigid steps along with provincial governments to reduce the water pollution. Although still there are inconsistency between different departments regarding enforcing the laws. In Bangladesh, the situation of water pollution is getting worsened day by day due to ineffective function of the existing regulatory approaches to control inland water pollution. Despite, numerous laws and policies, the velocity of water pollution is out of control. Therefore, the aims of the paper were to find out the legal systems of China and Bangladesh that have been using to prevent and control water pollution. 

Keywords: legislations, water pollution, industrious effluents, water management, water pollutants


Now a days, water pollution has become a serious problem for every corner of the world. This problem has become more acute in developing countries. China and Bangladesh two densely populated Asian countries are burdened with severe water pollution problem since past years. Bangladesh is a riverine country and owns 310 rivers. Despite having a large number of water sources, Bangladesh feels water scarcity crisis due to growing water pollution. Though water pollution is seen in both urban and rural areas but, urban areas where various industries are built-up are the main reasons for water pollution. Being agricultural country, water pollution is causing owing to excessive use of fertilizers and pesticides in agricultural fields that sweep into the water bodies. However, to address these growing problems, Bangladesh Government has attempted to implement a legislative and institutional system and enacts various types of environmental laws and regulations to combat environmental pollution. Throughout China’s history water has always been an essential part of political and economic life and important to the country’s prosperity and stability. Containing more than 1500 rivers China is also facing water pollution problem through the decades.

With the rapid economic development after the reform and opening up in China beginning in the early 1970s, environmental pollution problems became prominent. The rapid economic growth has created great challenges to water resource management, owing to growing demand for water and a scarcity of available resources, coupled with severe water pollution and other water-related environmental concerns. However, China has started adopting environmental legislation to minimize the water pollution and protect water resources across the country. But there are still some insufficiencies and lacking to strictly enforce these laws both in China and Bangladesh. Therefore, updating the existing laws and effectively applying environmental laws can help from degrading environment and water pollution for present and future generation.


Water pollution in Bangladesh is amplified by population growth, poverty, urbanization, industrialization, poor sanitation, excessive use of pesticides and fertilizers in agriculture, inefficient solid waste management and lack of consciousness. Legislation directly or indirectly related to protection of water pollution is present in Bangladesh. After the independence of newly born country Bangladesh, a number of government agencies, Non-Government Agencies (NGOs) and other private organizations either emerged or engaged in water development projects in Bangladesh. Currently, 13 different ministries along with 35 government organizations have been identified which are entrusted with the task of developing Water Resources Management in Bangladesh. Many legislative enactments have been made to address environmental concerns. Water Pollution Control Ordinance 1973 was the first legislation in Bangladesh about water pollution. Then in 1977, Environment Pollution Control Ordinance was declared. In 1992 another Environmental Policy was declared and the Government of Bangladesh has additionally organized various supplementary arrangements such as the Forest Policy (1994), the Fisheries Policy (1998), the Water Policy (1998), the New Agriculture Extension Policy (1995), the Energy Policy (1995). 

China’s economic prosperity mainly lies in effective management of water resources. In the past 50 years, China has made significant investments in water management and infrastructure, which has led to significant achievements in water supply, irrigation, flood control and hydropower generation. Despite significant investments in water management and infrastructure, more tangible innovative policies and incentives are required to strengthen and better integrate water management at both national and regional levels. However, the country is still facing acute challenges with respect to both water quantity and quality. China has implemented a series of reforms and pilots in recent years. These have been designed to address the many water-related challenges, including water scarcity, water pollution, ecological degradation, and increased risks and impacts of floods and droughts. The strictest water resources management system established three major control objectives, known as the Three Red Lines, and the construction of an “ecological civilization” has become one of the government’s highest policy priorities. As like Bangladesh, China itself also has faced different problems such as enacting and implementing legislations, inter-conflicts between the ministries to prevent water pollution. 

China and Bangladesh may interchangeably help each other with their legal experiences in prevention of water pollution in some extent. In facing environmental challenges, the Chinese experiences will make important contributions to the global discourse especially for the developing country Bangladesh for instance. Since the 1980s, when China implemented reform and an open policy to the outside world, the country has made significant progress in developing and allocating water resources, and in conservation, and protection.

This has contributed greatly to social and economic development and people’s well-being. A joint study held between the World Bank and the Development Research Center (DRC) of China’s State Council in 2018 stated that “The Chinese experience in managing the development of water resources also has important lessons for other transitioning economies and informing efforts to address global risks to economic progress, poverty eradication, peace and security, and sustainable development.” [1] 

China has seen its success in preventing environmental pollution in large extent though it has to be effectively worked to sustain preventive measures pollution particularly water pollution. Bangladesh, in this case can get legislative experience from China since water pollution is a major concern there. Simultaneously, China also may obtain information from Bangladesh and imply its own regions. Amid of the growing global awareness of environmental issues; Bangladesh ‘s commitment to preservation of the environment and the achievement of sustainable development has been quietly strengthened. 


This study examined the law and practices as regards water pollution in China and Bangladesh and pointed out the defects and deficiencies of the legal systems and practices, and also put forward some specific suggestions from the perspective of China and Bangladesh. The study is a secondary evaluation of existing environmental laws regulating water pollution in China and Bangladesh. The secondary literature and instrument, statutory and case law, relevant public records, text books, administrative and public records, magazines and policy papers, available statistical data, reports of various NGOs, government reports, opinion of experts were reviewed and incorporated to complete the study. 

The comparison of the legal systems of water pollution prevention and control between China and Bangladesh

Despite proper guidelines mentioned in the Water Pollution Prevention and Control Law, industrial pollution and its discharges are polluting water bodies heavily. More than 80% of sewage is directly discharged into waters without treatment, more than one-third of China’s rivers have been polluted, more than 90% of urban waters are seriously polluted, and nearly 50% of key towns’ water sources do not meet drinking water standards. [2] According to the “Water Pollution Prevention and Control Action Plan” that was issued in 2015, water treatment will extend from “point source pollution” at the terminal level such as sewage treatment and interception pipe networks to “non-point source pollution” in the whole process of source control, process interruption and end treatment, involving treatment, restoration, and ecological landscape. In 2017, detailed rules for various sub-fields of water treatment were gradually introduced, and specific requirements were put forward for sub-fields such as sewage treatment, black and smelly water treatment, and sponge city construction. [3] It is required to strengthen the protection and prevention of rivers and lakes, protect water resources, protect water environment, water ecology, and water landscape. Though China is using its all level of efforts to make water sources safe from being polluted but still there are unsystematic, uninformative and impractical management are seen for water resources protection.

In order to ensure the protection of inland water, conservation and management of inland water resources as well as promulgated effective laws are significantly interlinked and essential in Bangladesh. The objectives of Bangladesh Environment Conservation (ECA) Act, 1995 which was amended in 2010 are conservation, improvement of quality standards, and control through mitigation of pollution of the environment. The Environment Conservation Rules (ECR) 1997 described the declaration of ecologically critical area, procedure for issuing environmental clearance certificate, pollution under control certificate, determination of environmental standards, application relating to pollution or degradation of environment, procedure for hearing of appeal, various services and their fees etc. It sets the Environmental Quality Standards (EQS) to control quality of air, water, noise, emissions and discharge. The 1997 Environmental Conservation Rules specified waste discharge quality standards for all industrial units and projects. To minimize industrious effluents, the National Water Policy 1999 of Bangladesh, Environment Conservation Act 1995, Environment Conservation Rules 1997 have highlighted the effluent discharge problem as a critical water management issue, and has set broad guidelines to prevent water pollution caused by industries.

The Water Rule 2018 has performed a wide range of functions namely compliance orders, protection orders, removal orders, imprisonment and fines/compensation, the maximum amount of surface water or groundwater that can be withdrawn by individuals or organizations, clearance certificate by Executive Committee in terms of water related projects. However, in the Bangladesh Water Act 2013, there are no provisions found for punishment related to industrial discharges, establishing discharge standards and also for the establishment of ETPs. Additionally, there are no guidelines relating to non-point water pollution sources like fertilizer and pesticides.


Considering the above points have discussed earlier, it can be recommended that the following measures may help to reduce the water pollution and to protect water resources for further pollution. It needs to be ensured the effective and functional role of water resources protection and monitoring system. It needs to be effectively solved the problem of water pollution disputes on administrative boundaries, and preside over the preparation of national water quality standards and protection regulations for water sources. It requires to analyze and calculate the allowable discharge of pollutants in the main water function areas, formulate a control strategy for the total volume of pollutants in the basin, and establish an optimization model for the construction of pollutant reduction and water quality improvement projects in the basin.

It is also recommended to establish a river basin water resources protection and supervision system with drinking water source functional areas as the core, and study and formulate national water quality standards and protection norms for water supply source areas. Additionally, it is suggested that based on the water function zoning, establish a national water quality monitoring and control system for the main control sections of rivers and lakes, timely forecast the water quality change process of the main rivers and lakes in the country (though already it has been introduced but need further improvements), and analyze and evaluate the compliance status of the water function areas.


The environmental laws and rules for preventing and controlling water resources from being polluted in different ways in China and Bangladesh were used insufficiently in the primary stage. Both the governments have proposed the key initiatives and measures to reduce water pollution as it affects the ecosystem and other living beings who are directly or indirectly depended on water. It is noticeable that there has been lacking of proper, effective and timely enforcement of the laws on preventing and controlling water pollution that is required to design a comprehensive legal framework and devise measures of the implementation of such laws.

It is; however, China has significantly improved its legal systems and policies regarding to water pollution. Bangladesh, on the other hand, is also improving its laws and policies to abate the water pollution. For Bangladesh, the declaration of the National Water policy is a bold step towards good governance. It is believed that this policy may reimburse the damages that have already been done to the bio-diversity and environment of the country. Since both the countries rapidly are moving to industrialization; therefore, severe water resource management challenges like water scarcity, water pollution, and industrial pollution will increase unless more effective policies are properly implemented. To meet the water resource management challenges; holistic, integrated, scientific approach with effective water prevention and control laws and policies are highly required. 

In China, government has taken rigid steps along with provincial governments to reduce the water pollution. Although still there are inconsistency between different departments regarding enforcing the laws. In Bangladesh, the situation of water pollution is getting worsened day by day due to ineffective function of the existing regulatory approaches to control inland water pollution.”

Author is a Postgraduate Student of  Economic Law School  at Shanghai University of Political Science and Law, Shanghai, China-201701. 

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