As Delhi chokes, China's clamp on industrial output brings in fresh air

Industrial output in China came down o 6.2 per cent in October but it has also resulted in improved air quality in Beijing.

As Delhi chokes, China's clamp on industrial output brings in fresh air
Even as India mulls effective plans to tackle air pollution, China has implemented several measures which are now helping bring down pollutants. (File PTI Photo)

New Delhi: Even as the air over most parts of north India continues to spiral out of control, China is cracking down on its factory output to reduce pollution. AFP on Tuesday quoted data from China's National Bureau of Statistics to show industrial output in the country slowed in October in a bid to keep check on air pollutants.

China has waged war on air pollution - especially in the run-up to 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. At a time when India is trying to sort out its own air quality problems through plans, proposals and petitions, China has raced ahead and implemented strong measures to curb toxic air its citizens are breathing. The government has moved to wind down production at some steel factories and smelters in a drive to clean up the country's smog-ridden cities.

Factories also closed during last month's Communist Party congress, during which President Xi Jinping called for more efforts to protect the environment.

Environmental experts in the country largely agree that action is not just taken at the outbreak of a health emergency but both planning and implementation is a long-term effort in the country. They, however, add that still more needs to be done. 

And more perhaps is actively being done.

The country, say media reports, is looking to reduce its dependence on coal energy while several steel plants in northern China are being shut for the winter months when pollution levels dip. "“The measures are part of an aggressive action plan that aims to cut wintertime particulate pollution by 15% year-on-year over the next five months. These cuts are badly needed as Beijing and the surrounding industrial provinces have suffered the winter’s first serious episode this week (last week of October), with PM 2.5 levels across several provinces reaching ‘very unhealthy’ levels,” said Greenpeace recently.

Almost at the same time when air over China reached 'very unhealthy' levels prompting immediate action, the air quality over India's capital plunged to 'severe' category. Delhi has consistently beaten Beijing in the list of most polluted cities in recent weeks. The National Green Tribunal halted construction work and entry of trucks carrying non-essential items - among other measures. None of these have managed to make any impact on air quality.

At the time of filing this report, the AQI in Delhi - as per which measures pollution levels in major world cities  - was 316. It was 42 in Beijing.

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