Last week was one of Beijing’s smoggiest on record. To allow residents to breathe free once more, the city is now planning to deploy a special task force charged with cleaning up the skies.
Of course, this environmental police squad will focus on sniffing out the main sources of the heavy smog that is continually blanketing China’s capital city, including open-air barbecues and rubbish fires, says acting mayor Cai Qi.
“Like many of us, I am used to checking the weather and the air quality index of Beijing first thing in the morning. I totally understand the public’s concerns and complaints over air pollution,” Cai stated at a Saturday press conference. “I sympathize with people who are venting online about the smoggy weather.”
“Open-air barbecues, garbage incineration, biomass burning, dust from roads – these acts of non-compliance with regulations are actually the result of lax supervision and weak law enforcement,” he added.
Along with shutting down chuanr stalls, the officers will also be tasked with monitoring whether people and businesses are following environmental regulations to the letter.
To aid in their effort, Cai promises that Beijing’s coal consumption will be reduced by 30% this year and 300,000 high-polluting vehicles will be barred from the city’s roads. Since the beginning of the year, 4,100 construction sites have been shut down and 2,500 factories have had their operations limited.
Cai’s announcement follows tremendous public pressure after more than a week of hellish smog in Beijing which consumed all but the tallest skyscrapers, left high-speed trains “battle-scarred,” ruined a perfectly good snow day and yet somehow only resulted in an orange alert for air pollution.
This latest airpocalypse caused Beijing parents to rise up and demand that schools be equipped with air filtration systems, a demand that Beijing’s education authority quickly acceded to, claiming that they had already set aside the funds necessary.
Of course, this is just the kind of panic that occurs each and every winter in northern China, and despite some promises, it remains to be seen whether bluer skies are truly ahead.
But, maybe this time, Beijing will finally be able to end the scourge that is outdoor barbecues once and for all.
[Images via CGTN]
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