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Measures to ease emergencies
( 2003-08-19 10:13) (China Daily)

The Beijing grain bureau has worked out a set of measures to deal with emergencies in the supply of food and edible oil, according to yesterday's Beijing Times.

The measures will be activated in any of the three situations: Residents queue to buy and essential foods are sold out; Essential foods and oil are in short supply and price hikes are more than 30-50 per cent; Supply fluctuates dramatically due to a war, natural disaster, epidemic, international blockade or other emergency situation.

The bureau is to set up 78 supervision spots across the city.

Local grain authorities will maintain storage of over 10.5 million kilograms of food and oil to deal with any potential supply crisis.

Such preparation for untoward emergencies is absolutely necessary in the capital city with its population of over 13 million people.

The supply of food and oil, critical to residents' daily life, is increasingly susceptible to unforeseen occurrences. This step by the government is crucial in preventing any emergencies from escalating into major disasters.

Our memories of the panic buying in April when the city was under the heel of the SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) epidemic are still painfully fresh. Residents rushed to stores and, within a short time, cleared shelves of all essential foods.

Thanks to the heightened vigilance of the local government, which responded quickly using its own reserves and help from neighbouring provinces and cities, people were quickly calmed down and the market resumed its normal operation.

The alarm bell sounded by the SARS crisis has been heeded by local grain authorities in mapping out its emergency measures.

Equipped with the new rules, they are sure to be able to handle any potential emergency in the future with greater confidence.

In fact, for a metropolis like Beijing, precautionary measures are needed not only for the supply of grain, but also for the supply of power and water.

The latest reminder is the power failure last week that switched off lights and shut down factories across a large swath of the north-eastern United States and southern Canada. Big cities such as New York were almost paralyzed.

The blackout provides food for thought for big cities, including Beijing.

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