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Measures to improve air quality
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Work at Beijing construction sites will be suspended in the run-up to, and during, the Olympic and Paralympic Games, the municipal government announced Monday.

The suspension - along with a slew of other initiatives - to be effective from July 20 to September 20, aims to ensure better air quality during the Games, said Du Shaozhong, deputy director of the Beijing environment protection bureau.

Other measures announced yesterday include:

19 heavy-polluting industries have been asked to cut emissions by a further 30 percent. Gas stations, tanker trucks and oil depots will be closed if they haven't completed "oil vapor recovery" technical upgrades.

Outdoor spray-painting is forbidden throughout the city.

Quarrying operations will be stopped.

The measures will help "fulfill Beijing's commitment to improving air quality during the Beijing Olympics", Du said.

"Enterprises that shut down or reduce production during the period will be exempted from pollution emission charges," he added.

Last month, Beijing announced plans to take as many as half of its 3.3 million vehicles off the roads during the Games period to help cut emissions.

Automobiles, excluding taxis, buses and emergency vehicles, are to stay off roads every other day in accordance with the even and odd numbers on the license plates, it was announced.

Five provinces and municipalities surrounding Beijing - Tianjin, Hebei, Shanxi and Shandong provinces and the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region - will join the efforts to ensure good air quality in the capital. They will announce detailed plans soon.

Du is confident of fulfilling the promise Beijing has made to the world on air pollution prevention.

Other pollution control measures announced earlier include:

From March 20, all earthwork construction projects have been suspended on windy days.

The authorities have implemented new car emission standards since March 1 that match those currently used in the European Union.

Coal-burning industries have been relocated out of built-up areas.

An IOC study released last month said that competition conditions would "not necessarily (be) ideal at every moment," but said Beijing's air quality was better than expected.

Beijing, which is sometimes shrouded in smog, has spent more than $15 billion over the last decade to clean its air and the improvement is obvious.

The city notched up 67 "blue sky days" from January to the end of March, 12 more than the same period last year and the highest in nine years, according to Du.

(China Daily April 15, 2008)

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