Beijing takes tough measures on air pollution
Beijing municipal government will adopt 22 tough new measures to control air pollution this year, building on the progress achieved over the last six years.
The new measures include stricter controls on industrial smoke, automobile exhaust fumes and construction dust.
Other measures include relocating some heavy polluters - such as coking plants in southeastern suburbs - out of the city area.
Automobile emissions, which are an increasing threat to the city's air quality as the number of motor cars rises, will be put under more rigorous supervision and control this year, according to the Beijing Municipal Environmental Protection Bureau.
Motor vehicles that meet emission standards usually have a yellow or green tag pasted on their front windows after an annual inspection. However, cars without such tags are often seen on the roads.
This year, the municipal environmental protection bureau will team up with local traffic management authorities to guard against vehicles without such tags on the road. People driving such cars will be fined 200 yuan (US$24), said Pei Chenghu, deputy director of the bureau.
Pei said the city plans to phase out 3,800 old buses and 20,000 taxis, both blamed as major pollution sources, by the end of this year.
The cost of changing the buses alone is expected to reach 3 billion yuan (US$363 million), according to sources with the Beijing Public Transport Group.
All new buses and taxis must meet Euro III emission standard, said Feng Yuqiao, chief of the Air Pollution Prevention and Control Division under the bureau.
Experts say emissions from one old car is the same as from 14 new cars that meet this new standard.
Feng said the city is expected to upgrade its exhaust standard from Euro II to Euro III this year, and special petrol suitable for Euro III cars will be on sale in July.
Beijing adopted the Euro II emission standard in 2003, and the speedy upgrade is because of urgent appeals for clean air, and due to the soaring number of vehicles, said Feng.
Apart from exhaust fumes, the city will also take tough measures to slash industrial emissions, which are another major source to air pollution.
A second batch of heavy polluters, that could include more than 20 industrial plants, is expected to be told to clean up operations this year, said Pei.
His bureau made public the first batch of 28 heavy polluters last June, which produced a total of 78,000 tons of sulfur dioxide and 13,000 tones of dust and smoke annually.
All the 28 blacklisted enterprises, mainly engaged in electricity and heating supply, and petrochemical and steel-smelting industries, had adopted measures to reduce their emissions by the end of last year, according to the bureau.
The steel giant Shougang Group, which has long been blamed as the biggest industrial polluter in Beijing, has been ordered to close down a blast furnace before July and a coke oven by the end of this year.
Ji Lin, vice-mayor of Beijing, said at a conference last month that Shougang should try to remove all its pollution-producing plants out of Beijing by 2008.
The relocation of Shougang, which has been discussed for nearly a decade and was finally decided early this year, is expected to cost at least 50 billion yuan (US$6 billion).
"If the relocation project cannot be finished before 2008, all its smelting operations will be suspended during the 2008 Olympic Games," said Ji.
This year, the city vows to ensure 230 days meet good or excellent air quality standards. That means air pollutants, such as sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and suspended particulate, are kept at a low level.
(China Daily 04/05/2005 page3)