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Beijing reports more 'blue sky' days in Jan.-Apr.
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Beijing saw 86 "blue sky" days, or days with fairly good air quality, in the first four months of this year, a sign that years of anti-pollution efforts made by the Olympic host city continue to pay off.

The number of "blue sky" days was 11 more than the same period of last year, according to the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Environmental Protection.

The Chinese capital recorded 67 blue sky days in the first quarter, 12 more than in the corresponding period last year.

Meanwhile, major pollution indices, including concentrations of sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide and particulate matters in the air, kept dropping markedly.

Beijing has input 120 billion yuan (17.1 billion U.S. dollars) in improving the air quality in the past years, and the number of "blue sky" days increased to 246 last year from 100 in 1998, when the capital launched the "blue sky" drive.

Meanwhile, Beijing's neighbouring municipality Tianjin, the provinces of Hebei, Shanxi and Shandong, and the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region are lending a hand to the capital to attain anti-pollution goals. These efforts include closing major polluters, removing outmoded cabs and reconditioning gas stations to capture harmful chemicals.

Beijing aims to have 70 percent of the days up to standard this year, which meant there should be at least 256 blue sky days.

It has been working to reduce pollution and improve the air quality to ensure a "Green Olympics."

For example, the municipal government cut public transport fares in an attempt to lure local residents out of their private cars, which could cut auto emissions. The city also converted 18,000 outdated coal-fired boilers and installed electrical heaters in 20,000 detached houses, replacing coal-heated devices.

Beijing is also considering traffic controls during the Olympics, in which drivers with even- and odd-numbered license plates, except taxis, buses and emergency vehicles, would only be able to drive on alternate days. Offenders would be fined.

During a test of this proposal conducted from Aug. 17-20, about 1.3 million cars were taken off the city roads each day and the amount of pollutants discharged was cut by 5,815.2 tons, according to a report by the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Environmental Protection.

(Xinhua News Agency May 2, 2008)

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