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Capital Takes Steps to Curb Pollution
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Beijing will introduce vehicle-exhaust monitoring devices in a bid to tackle the pollution that continues to plague the city.

The move is designed to strengthen controls on harmful emissions from the capital's 2.6 million vehicles. They are believed to contribute around half of the city's ozone pollution according to the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Environmental Protection.

Bureau official Wang Dawei said ozone pollution which has plagued many cities in developed countries since the 1950s had recently become an increasingly severe problem in the Chinese capital due to the huge rise in the number of cars.

"The exhaust-gas monitoring devices will be placed at several key sections in urban areas, mainly along the second and third ring roads," Wang told a news briefing yesterday. He added that drivers with vehicles exceeding permitted emission standards would be fined.

Wang added that the devices would also provide valuable information on the overall levels of exhaust-gas pollution in Beijing. He said this was a "fundamental" part of the city gathering information on ozone pollution.

He warned that the pollution had the potential to pose a major problem during the 2008 Beijing Olympics as strong summer sunshine would accelerate the formation of photochemical smog which could be health damaging.

Besides placing monitoring devices on roads the city is considering offering financial assistance to private car owners whose vehicles produce significant fumes to purchase new cars which meet the upgraded standards introduced in late 2005, said Pei Chenghu, the bureau's deputy director.

Meanwhile, around 8,000 of the city's old taxis and 2,000 buses will be required to have new technology installed that cuts back their emissions.

It has been estimated that emissions from one old car are the same as from 14 new vehicles which come up to the new standards.

Apart from the vehicles the city will also take steps this year to curb heavy pollution from around 200 plants in the power, petrochemical, steel and sewage treatment sectors.

These plants, which account for 80 percent of the city's total industrial pollution, will be equipped by the end of this year with sophisticated monitors of their gas and water discharges. Pei warned that the operation of any of these plants which exceeded the discharge standards would be suspended or they could be closed.

These latest moves are part of a whole range of measures which the city authorities have taken this year to tackle pollution. Other steps include stricter supervision of construction sites and the expanded use of low-sulphur coal.

The city has pledged that at least 238 days this year should meet good or excellent air quality standards.

(China Daily March 17, 2006)

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