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Three-stage Plan to Ensure Clear Skies
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A new package of measures, ranging from limiting the dust from construction sites to rainmaking, is to be introduced soon to help ensure blue skies at next year's Olympics.


The plan, designed by various environment bureaux, experts and the Beijing municipal government, is expected to be released "soon", once it is approved by the State Council, Fan Yuansheng, director of the pollution control bureau under the State Environment Protection Administration, said.


Fan said the plan will divide the pre-Games preparation process into three stages with different tasks assigned to each period - pre-February 2008, February to May, and June to August.


The plan also includes specific measures to improve air quality during August, Fan told China Daily yesterday on the sidelines of a forum on building an ecologically well-off society organized by the Party magazine Qiushi in Hohhot, the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.


These include reducing the number of vehicles on the road during the Games, limiting dust from construction sites and cutting industrial emissions. Beijing's neighboring provinces will be asked to join in the efforts, Fan said.


For instance, construction sites that might spread dust should be closed down at the end of this year and not be reopened until after the Games have finished. Also, any of the 1,000 oil stations in the city, which haven't controlled their oil vaporization should also be closed down before June.


Reducing industrial production will be a complicated project, Fan said, as some heavily polluting factories will be asked to stop production while others will be asked only to reduce their output.


The whole plan calls for close cooperation from four neighboring cities and provinces: Tianjin, Hebei, Shanxi and Inner Mongolia, Fan said.


"If all the preliminary efforts fail to make the sky bluer, an emergency plan will be initiated in August," Fan said.


For instance, the four-day vehicle limitation plan adopted by Beijing last weekend managed to cut vehicle emissions and improve air quality, but the muggy weather at the time negated the positive effects.


"When it is muggy and there is no wind, it is more difficult for the dust to disperse and the benefits of having less traffic on the roads are not as noticeable," Fan said.


He said rainmaking would be used as an emergency measure during the Games to clear the gloomy air.


Other emergency measures include extending the ban on vehicles and asking more factories to stop production, Fan said.


(China Daily August 24, 2007)

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