Beijing plans to restrict vehicles to cut down pollution



Beijing: Chinese government plans to cut down the number of vehicles operating in the capital on days when the city suffers from heavy air pollution, even as smog returned once again to the city taking its pollution levels to above the danger mark.

According to a new regulation released for public comments today by the Beijing municipal government, a certain number of vehicles will have to be off the road during heavy air pollution days in order to protect the health of the people.

The draft also stipulates emergency preparation, forecasts, warning alerts and a response system during heavy air pollution.

Under such circumstances, the municipal government will issue air pollution notices and take emergency measures, such as suspension of factory production, and reduction in the number of running vehicles, the draft says.

The regulation, jointly drafted by the municipal government and the city's people's congress, is aimed to solve air pollution problems faced by the city, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

Heavy smog covered China's capital for seven consecutive days until Wednesday, when a cold front with wind dispersed it. The haze returned today, when the air quality in the city fell to dangerous levels again.

Fog started lingering in the city last night, taking the PM 2.5 concentration to between 300 and 400 micrograms per cubic metre of air, or Level VI, which is a dangerous level, according to Beijing Municipal Environmental Monitoring Center statistics.

PM 2.5 refers to fine particulate matter that are 2.5 microns or less in diametre. The weather forecast bureau has issued yellow alerts for fog and haze, the third highest level following red and orange, Xinhua said.

Visibility in the city's southern region was less than 500 metres during daytime. The city's environmental protection departments have advised residents, especially the elderly and children to stay indoors, and urged relevant departments to tell companies to take measures to curb emissions.

According to the weather forecast, it was expected to snow and this could help improve the air quality.

The air quality indices were off the charts during the seven days until Wednesday, exceeding the "maximum" level of 500 in the city, as well as many other cities in central and north China.

PTI