Beijing is readying for heavy pollution on Tuesday with the government issuing the most serious alert for smog over a city of more than 21 million.
It means schools will be shut, just about 50% of privately-owned vehicles will ply and construction activity across the city will be ordered shut. State media said that this was the “…first time the capital has issued the red alert, which will last from 7:00 am on Tuesday to 12:00 pm on Thursday.”
It added that according to the emergency pollution regulations put in place in early 2013, “…kindergartens, primary and high schools are advised to suspend classes, outdoor operations of construction sites are banned and some industrial plants are required to last.” The highest alert comes days after Beijing experienced heavy smog last week. It was followed by a few days of clear skies and air but quickly covered by a new layer of smog.
“Car use will be limited as cars are allowed on the roads on alternating days depending on the odd or even numbers of their license plates. In addition, 30% of government cars will be banned from streets on an odd/even basis,” state media reported.
According to the Beijing Municipal Environmental Monitoring Centre, heavy air pollution will linger until Thursday. It is expected to disperse Thursday afternoon.
Beijing’s residents took to the internet to criticise authorities for not issuing a red alert during last week’s episode of heavy smog, which exceeded hazardous levels on pollution indices.
Environmental protection minister Chen Jining on Sunday vowed to punish agencies and officials for any failure to quickly implement a pollution emergency response plan, the state-run Global Times tabloid said.
Chinese researchers have identified pollution as a major source of unrest around the country.
The looming smog underscores the challenge facing the government, as it battles pollution caused by the coal-burning power industry, and will raise questions at the Paris talks about its ability to clean up its economy and environment.
With inputs from agencies