BEIJING, July 27 (Xinhua) -- China's top court on Thursday issued a judicial interpretation requiring local courts to accept public interest lawsuits against mining practices that have caused environmental damage.
Mining without a license or with unsustainable methods has caused great damage to the environment and its seriousness has been underestimated, said Zheng Xuelin, presiding judge of the tribunal for environmental resource cases at the Supreme People's Court.
"The new judicial interpretation will raise people's awareness of environmental protection," added Zheng.
To strengthen environmental watchdogs, the judicial explanation stipulates that courts should make suggestions to local environmental departments and designate them to handle cases involving mining without a license or fabrication of documents, among other offences.
Environmental departments are better in dealing with such cases and the major force for environmental protection, Zheng said.
Suspected criminal offences should be transferred to investigative organs, said the interpretation which went into effect Thursday.