July 31, 2008

Beijing Pollution Worries Authorities

With only days left for start of China's show-piece Summer Olympics in Beijing, the capital's pollution remains a nagging issue despite big efforts to fight it.

Chinese authorities have come up with a tougher plan that will include more factory closings and stricter traffic regulations.

The environmental protection ministry says Beijing, Tianjin, and Hebei province will put new measures into effect expand if forecasters see unfavorable air quality conditions in the next two days, Xinhua reported Thursday.

In that event, scores more factories in and around would be shut down, all construction halted and fewer vehicles allowed on the streets, Xinhua said.

Prior tough measures such as closing a number of factories, halting outdoor construction and ordering alternate days driving by odd-even number license plate-bearing vehicles have not made much impact on the pollution problem, the report said.

The Xinhua report said Beijing residents and visitors complain the city is covered by mist and fog. Experts blamed the problem on a lack of rain and wind needed to blow away accumulated emissions.

Earlier forecasts have predicted the Games starting Aug. 8 would be greeted by cooler temperatures and less hazy skies.