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Baoding takes heat for severe pollution

By Zhang Yu and Pei Pei in Baoding, Hebei province | China Daily | Updated: 2015-04-25 07:41

Controlling air pollution has become a top priority for Baoding, Hebei province, after it was listed as the country's most polluted of 74 major cities in China for five straight months.

"It's a shame for every Baodinger that the city has been notorious for its bad air quality," said Nie Ruiping, Party chief of Baoding, at a video conference on Monday, adding that government officials should feel guilty about this.

According to Nie, although Baoding has rolled out measures to fight air pollution, government officials have not put the measures into place effectively.

For the first three months of this year, Baoding only had 11 days that met air quality standards, and had 39 heavily polluted days, despite an average 29.5 percent year-on-year drop in PM2.5 density in Hebei province.

Neighboring Beijing, which also counts as one of the country's most polluted cities, witnessed a 19 percent year-on-year drop in the average density of PM2.5 - airborne particles smaller than 2.5 microns in diameter that can penetrate the lungs and harm health - in the first quarter. The city's environmental watchdog attributed this to "the capital's continuous air pollution control efforts and favorable weather conditions".

Baoding has set up a special team led by Nie and Mayor Ma Yufeng to ensure the proper implementation of measures to curb air pollution.

The team will hold monthly meetings to summarize the progress, and government leaders will secretly inspect companies.

"The city will punish enterprises that illegally discharge pollutants, and also punish government officials who protect those enterprises," Nie was quoted as saying by

According to Ma, by the end of this year, the average density of PM2.5 in Baoding should drop by 8 percent from last year. By the end of 2017, it should fall 33 percent from 2013.

The effectiveness of the anti-air pollution campaign will be a key factor in officials' performance evaluations.

Baoding is seen as an important city in the coordinated development of the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei zone. Since the region's development was set as a national strategy last year, many enterprises from the capital and Tianjin have moved to the city and explored cooperation with local companies.

Nie said that every project has to be aware of air pollution.

The campaign also encourages the public to report air-polluting behavior to the government. Each person will be given up to 1,000 yuan ($160) if the reported behavior is confirmed.

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