The government of Lanzhou, capital of Gansu Province, has issued an emergency plan to control air pollution during the winter.
According to an official from the Lanzhou environmental protection bureau, the plan has specific and stringent measures, including the closing down of barbecued food businesses that emit smoke and the suspension of construction in urban areas when air pollution is at its highest, or red, level.
Air quality warnings will be graded as red, orange and yellow, according to the level of pollution, Kang Mingke, deputy director of the bureau's legal department, said.
The degree of pollution will be determined by the concentration of inhalable particles in the air, he said.
Lanzhou is considered one of the most polluted cities in China.
In recent years, the local government has introduced several measures, including closing down heavy industrial projects, restricting smoke and dust emissions and controlling car exhaust emissions, in a bid to improve the city's environment.
Kang said that between Saturday and yesterday, Lanzhou had the worst pollution in the country.
Under the new plan, once the air quality reaches the yellow alert level, the local government will place limits on the operation of small- and medium-sized coal boilers and adopt dust suppression measures, such as covering places where dust is produced and sprinkling them with water, Kang said.
If the air quality reaches the red alert level, the provincial and municipal governments can order heavy polluting companies to limit or stop production, and will also restrict the number of vehicles in urban areas.
Surrounded by mountains, Lanzhou has long suffered from serious air pollution, especially during winter.
Yi Dong, deputy chief engineer of the Gansu provincial bureau of meteorology, said that because it lacks strong winds during the winter, Lanzhou is often blanketed by smog, which is hard to disperse.
According to the Lanzhou meteorological center, between late Saturday and Sunday afternoon, the air pollution index reached a high of 419.
"It was the worst pollution the city has seen this winter," Yi said.
"On December 8, the air pollution index was 302."
Wu Jide, the city's deputy mayor said the local government will try "every way" to control dust and air pollution to provide residents with a better environment.
(China Daily January 9, 2008)