BEIJING Feb 23 China has sent teams of
investigators to parts of the country worst hit by air pollution
as part of efforts to stop the heavy smog engulfing about 15
percent of the country, including Beijing.
Twelve teams of inspectors will head to the cities of
Beijing, the nearby city of Tianjin and Hebei province to see
how authorities are responding to the worst air pollution in
months, the Ministry of Environmental Protection said on Sunday.
The inspectors will visit construction sites and factories
producing steel, glass, cement and coal products, the ministry
said. Those found to be violating production standards will be
Authorities have issued innumerable orders and policies to
try and clean up the environment, investing in projects to fight
pollution and empowering courts to mete out stiff penalties. But
enforcement has been patchy at the local level, where
authorities often rely on taxes paid by polluting industries.
In Beijing, which has been shrouded in smoky, white smog for
a week, authorirites raised the air pollution alert system to
"orange" for the first time on Friday after drawing public fire
for its initial ineffective response.
The "orange" level, the second-highest level of a four-tier
system, advises schools to cancel sports classes.
Other emergency measures include cutting private use of cars
by about a fifth in Shijiazhuang, a city near Beijing, state
news agency Xinhua said. Authorities also banned barbecues and
halted construction work.
It is not uncommon for air pollution in parts of China to
breach levels considered by some experts to be hazardous. That
has drawn much public ire and is a worry for China's government,
which fears any discontent that might compromise stability.
"The Beijing smog has lasted for so many days. I feel like I
have not seen the sun in a long time," said one user of Weibo,
China's version of Twitter. "O environment, are you going to let
people live or not?"
(Reporting by Koh Gui Qing and Li Hui; Editing by Ron Popeski)