Beijing: As dense smog swathed much of China including its capital for days, country`s Premier-designate Li Keqiang has warned that tackling the pollution will take longer time.
China will strengthen the enforcement of environmental laws, and take other measures to tackle air pollution, said Vice-Premier Li Keqiang, who is tipped to succeed Premier Wen Jiabao in March this year.
"It took a long time for this problem to accumulate, and it will take a long time to solve it," he was quoted today by the official media here as saying.
"But we must act! We have to strengthen the enforcement of environmental laws and other regulations and also remind the public to protect themselves," he said in the first such comments by a top leader over public concerns on smog and haze that enveloped a number of cities since last weekend.
Beijing has been shrouded in thick smog since Saturday.
Levels of PM 2.5 - particle matter smaller than 2.5 microns and able to enter the lungs and even the bloodstream - passed 300 micrograms per cubic meter on Saturday in 33 of the 74 cities with systems sensitive enough to monitor the particles.
The World Health Organisation considers the safe daily level to be 25 micrograms per cubic meter.
"Beijing`s air pollution is characterised by a combination of coal-fired pollution, industrial pollution, motor vehicle emissions and dust, which have emerged almost simultaneously," Ming Dengli, head of the international cooperation office at the Beijing environmental bureau.
Air quality indices reached the "medium to dangerous level" yesterday.
The indices were literally off the charts during the preceding five days, exceeding the "maximum" level of 500, state-run Xinhua reported.
Four deaths have been attributed to the smoggy weather, including two high school students who were hit by a train due to low visibility in the city of Chaohu in east China`s Anhui province on Monday, it said.
Another two were killed in a pileup involving 20 vehicles in Zhejiang province yesterday. Eight others were injured.
Experts have urged local governments to exert concerted efforts to reduce the smog.
Ma Jun, director of Beijing`s public environment research centre said factories in neighbouring cities have affected the city`s air quality.
Ma advised municipalities, provinces and autonomous regions in north China, including Beijing, Tianjin, Hebei, Shanxi, Henan, Shandong, Inner Mongolia and Liaoning, to work together to come up with a joint method to reduce pollution.
State-run CCTV said several officials have been visiting number of industries in the outskirts asking them to cut down production to deal with present crisis, which drew sharp public criticism.