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Representational Picture of traffic snarls on city roads

Beijing Battles Worst Pollution, Issues 2nd Smog Alert

Similar to the smog seen in New Delhi, Beijing too is experiencing its worst smog alert that will stay in effect from Saturday, Dec. 20 to Tuesday, Dec. 23, 2015. The red alert in China’s capital was issued as airborne particles reaching 500 is expected this time, which is more than 20 times the safety level of PM2.5 level prescribed by the World Health Organization.

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Beijing city authorities have ordered closure of all the schools and barred half of the city cars from plying on roads, fearing escalation of pollution level. Besides, even barbecue grills and other sources of outdoor smoke and factory chimneys will remain closed to the alert.

The second alert in December month alone comes on the heels of coal burning thermal power plants in the city and vehicular traffic, which are directly linked to decades of unbridled economic growth from huge manufacturing bases.

Last time, the alert was issued on Dec. 7 and prohibitory orders were placed on vehicles and outdoor construction. This time, even the chimneys and grills were brought under and schools were closed in advance during the period.

The Chinese environmental authorities vowed to crack down on agencies and officials for any failure to implement a pollution emergency response plan quickly. Apart from Beijing, even Shanghai, the industrial work horse is facing severe restrictions in the form of confining students indoor and stopping construction sites and factories from emitting any smoke.

China has been reeling under the worst phase of air pollution for the last several years and started a “war on pollution” to improve the situation with little results. In 2014, nearly 90 percent of China’s big cities failed to meet air quality standards, though it was worse in 2013.

The Hebei area consisting of the capital Beijing and surrounding cities was under scanner for over a decade for its deteriorating air quality. It is feared that if the trend continues, Beijing may not be conducive to pollution-free environment until 2030.

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