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Beijing says no to more cars

The capital of the world's worst traffic jams and the fastest-growing car market has slammed the brakes on automobile sales to 20,000 per month in 2011.

world Updated: Dec 24, 2010 00:31 IST
Reshma Patil

The capital of the world's worst traffic jams and the fastest-growing car market has slammed the brakes on automobile sales to 20,000 per month in 2011.

On Thursday, Beijing municipal authorities announced that the government will limit the issue of car license plates to 240,000 per year from January 1 to make room on the gridlocked roads of the erstwhile bicycle kingdom. Government offices will not be permitted to buy vehicles for the next five years. Downtown parking fees will be hiked.

The quota is less than half the number of cars sold in Beijing this year - 700,000 - after China surpassed the US as the world's top car market.

About 2,000 new cars - twice the number in New Delhi - were joining Beijing roads per day this year, slowing traffic to 24 kmph. By 2015, traffic speed may to slow to bicycle speed again: 15 kmph.

Last week, panic shoppers dreading the new rules registered a record 30,000 cars in one week or 5,000 new cars per day in Beijing alone. Huang Wei, the vice-mayor of Beijing since 2008, resigned on Thursday after the controversial car quota was revealed. He was posted to remote Xinjiang as vice-chairman.