Beijing to launch environmental police force

Beijing, Jan 7 (IANS) One of the world’s most polluted cities, Beijing will set up a green police force to contain pollution which has reached endemic proportions in the megapolis.

Besides, the authorities will ban 300,000 high polluting vehicles and shut down the only coal-fired power plant and polluting factories in 2017.

Beijing will strengthen environmental protection in 2017 by organising an environmental police force to step up supervision and accountability in its 16 districts, the city’s acting mayor Cai Qi was quoted as saying by Xinhua news agency on Saturday.

“Open air barbecues, garbage incineration, biomass burning, dust from roads — these acts of non-compliance with regulations are actually the result of lax supervision and weak law enforcement,” said Cai at a meeting after a spell of smog lasting more than a week in the city.

Cai said the city government will take tougher measures to tackle air pollution in the new year.

The residents of Beijing rang in the first day of 2017 with heavy smog blanketing the city. So much so that many fled to other parts of the country for New Year’s revelry.

The city’s only coal-fired power plant will be closed until after the heating season. Coal consumption will be cut by 30 percent to less than 7 million tonnes in 2017.

Another 300,000 high-polluting old vehicles will be phased out in 2017. Cleaner gas and diesel will be put into use starting February 15.

Additionally, 500 manufacturing and polluting factories will be closed, while another 2,560 will be upgraded to meet higher pollution treatment standards.

Cai said the city will also build closer ties with neighbouring Hebei Province and Tianjin Municipality in fighting air pollution.

Unbridled factories over the decades propelled economic development but polluted the country.

Air pollution is one of the biggest problems of China, which has taken steps in this regard.

Many top officials in provincial governments have been sacked for failing to contain pollution.

In 2015, China shut down some 17,000 polluting units in the country.