SHIJIAZHUANG, Feb. 25-- An official of Shijiazhuang City in north China's Hebei Province on Tuesday recognized the action of a resident who is attempting to sue the local government over smog.
Cheng Gang, a member of the Communist Party Leadership Group and chief engineer of the city's environmental protection bureau, told Xinhua that citizens have the right to appeal through legal means and that the lawsuit reflects increasing environmental awareness among the public.
Li Guixin, a resident in Hebei, one of China's most polluted provinces, filed a lawsuit against the government on Feb. 20 to the People's Court of Yuhua District, which would be expected to decide on whether or not to accept and hear the case by Friday.
Li said he decided to safeguard his rights when the local government imposed driving restrictions on heavily polluted days, seeing this as an unfair penalization of the general public.
"I want to show every citizen through my action that we are the victims of the pollution," said Li. "We are affected physically and economically, and we shouldn't be the ones to pay for all this."
"No matter what the result of the lawsuit turns out to be, the city's environmental authority will work scrupulously to fulfill its duties in combating air pollution," Cheng said.
According to the official, the city government allocated nearly 3 billion yuan (490 million U.S. dollars) of fiscal funds and raised 8.5 billion yuan of social money to address pollution and improve the environment in 2013.
Hebei's economy is dominated by highly polluting and energy-guzzling heavy industries. The local government shut down 8,347 factories last year, and has pledged to cut annual steel and cement production capacities by 60 million tonnes by 2017 and to reduce annual coal consumption by 40 million tonnes from 2012 levels.