Fifty special air pollution supervisors employed by the Beijing Environmental Protection Bureau (BEPB) took office in Beijing on Thursday, sources with the BEPB said.
"It is the first time for the government to employ special supervisors to oversee the air pollution situation in the Chinese capital since the Beijing municipal government carried out a large-scale air pollution prevention and control project in 1998," said Pei Chenghu, deputy director of the BEPB.
According to Pei, the 50 supervisors represent a large social body including deputies to the municipal people's congress, members of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), experts, citizens and journalists.
The primary task of the supervisors is to oversee the air pollution prevention and control work of related departments and governments at the district and county level, and to promote the practice of air protection measures, said Pei.
Moreover, they will also be responsible for the report of air pollution behaviors and to supervise and urge correction of such behaviors, said Pei.
Now, the air quality of Beijing, with over 13 million people, still lags far behind the national air quality standards and the requirements of "Green Olympics", a slogan for the 2008 Olympic Games to be held in Beijing, said Shi Hanmin, director of the BEPB.
According to Shi, too much particulate matter in the air is the largest problem for Beijing to improve its air quality, as the annual average concentration of particulate matter in the air is 141 micrograms per cubic meters, 41 percent higher than the national standards.
Beijing's meteorological condition is another factor going against the improvement of the city's air quality, as some 40 percent of days of an average year in Beijing do not favor the diffusion of pollutants in the air, said Shi.
Moreover, the current Beijing is in the heyday of construction. With a construction area of over 100 million square meters, more than 6,000 building sites under construction at the same time, an annual coal burning volume of over 26 million tons and more than two million motor-driven vehicles, the air pollution prevention and control work of Beijing still faces a lot of difficulties, said Shi.
"The employment of air pollution supervisors from all walks of life will be helpful for the environmental protection departments to get more proposals from the society to improve the air quality of the Chinese capital," said Pei.
According to Pei, the employment term of the 50 supervisors is one year, and it is estimated that a total of 700 special supervisors will be employed in Beijing.
Beijing has witnessed a great improvement of its air quality in recent years since its "blue sky" days had increased from 100 days in 1998 to 224 days in 2003 with an increase rate of 34 percent, said Shi.
(Xinhua News Agency June 18, 2004)