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Power to the people in Beijing
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Beijing residents have been baking under a hot sun for weeks now, but there are no signs that any respite is on the horizon. However, the municipal government is making assurance that there are adequate water and power supplies. And, workers required to work outdoors are entitled to a heat wave subsidy.

A construction worker takes a short break in the scorching sun. [Luo Bo/China Daily]
A construction worker takes a short break in the scorching sun. [Luo Bo/China Daily]

The temperature soared to a historic high of 39.6 C on June 24, the highest recorded for late June, since 1951.

The Beijing Meteorology Bureau said last week that by June 30, Beijing had experienced 11 days of temperature above 35 C. This is second only to the 13 days recorded in 1952 and 1965.

He Lifu, chief forecaster of the National Meteorological Center, says continuous high temperatures in North China is a result of both a lack of rain and sustained sunshine that increases evaporation.

Statistics from the Beijing Water Group show that daily water use in Beijing's urban areas reached 2.66 million cubic meters on June 24, the highest in a decade.

Despite concerns over a water shortage, Zhang Ping, vice president of the Beijing Water Group, says the capital has sufficient reserves.

Power use also hit a new high, as the daily electricity load reached 11.84 million kw on June 24, up by nearly 20 percent from a year ago.

The relentless heat has aroused concerns about work safety.

The Beijing Human Resources and Social Security Bureau outlined its heat wave subsidy entitlements on June 25. The last time such a measure was adopted was in 1960.

According to the latest guidelines, people who work in the open are entitled to at least 60 yuan (US$8.80) per month from June to August, while people working indoors where the temperatures hover above 33 C, are entitled to at least 45 yuan (US$6.60) extra per month.

The subsidy applies to people like construction workers, bus drivers, bus conductors and sanitation workers.

If companies do not give the subsidy or do not do so on time, workers can apply to, or sue, the local labor supervision bureau.

(China Daily July 6, 2009)

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