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Beijing to cut car use by half during Olympics

Beijing will cut the numbers of cars on its clogged streets by up to half during the Olympics in an effort to curb traffic jams and pollution for the August Games, the government confirmed on Friday.
By HT Correspondent | AFP, Beijing
UPDATED ON JUN 20, 2008 08:22 AM IST

Beijing will cut the numbers of cars on its clogged streets by up to half during the Olympics in an effort to curb traffic jams and pollution for the August Games, the government confirmed on Friday.

Cars with odd- and even-numbered license plates will be banned from taking to the streets on alternate days starting July 20, the Beijing government said in a notice posted on its website.

The ban, which had been expected, was issued as China also announced a rise in petrol and diesel prices by more than 16 percent effective Friday to close the gap with soaring international oil prices.

The car ban rule is aimed at cutting air pollution and alleviating chronic traffic jams, said the notice, carried by the city newspapers.

The Beijing government will also reduce the use of its vehicles in coming months, according to the notice.

Beijing is one of the world's most polluted cities and some of the 10,000 athletes coming for the August Games, including Ethiopian distance great Haile Gebrselassie, have expressed concerns about the health impact of competing.

The capital underwent a four-day trial ban on cars in August 2007, one year before the Games, but the air quality did not show a marked improvement.

International Olympic Committee chief Jacques Rogge has already warned that endurance events such as the marathon may be postponed to protect athletes.

"The task of bringing environmental pollution and traffic congestion under control remain arduous," Beijing mayor Guo Jinlong admitted earlier this year.

Guo said that Beijing would enact strict standards on emissions this year and take other measures to curb pollution, such as closing down factories and suspending construction work in the city.

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