Smog puts damper on trav­el­ers’ hol­i­day spir­its

China Daily (Canada) - - TOP NEWS - By ZHENG JINRAN in Bei­jing zhengjin­ran@chi­nadaily.com. cn

As mil­lions of trav­el­ers headed home on Wed­nes­day on the last day of the week­long Na­tional Day hol­i­day, many in north­ern China, in­clud­ing in Bei­jing and Tian­jin, en­coun­tered thick smog that cut vis­i­bil­ity, ham­pered traf­fic and soured their mood.

Bei­jing has been blan­keted by heavy haze since Mon­day. The smog grew worse by Wed­nes­day, when by 2 pm the con­cen­tra­tion of PM2.5 — air­borne par­tic­u­late mat­ter with di­am­e­ter of 2.5 mi­crons or less that can pen­e­trate the lungs and harm health—had climbed to 313 mi­cro­grams per cu­bic me­ter, the Bei­jing En­vi­ron­men­tal Mon­i­tor­ing Cen­ter said.

Un­fa­vor­able weather con­di­tions and the burn­ing of straw were con­sid­ered the ma­jor causes of the heavy air pol­lu­tion, the cen­ter said.

Parts of He­bei, Shan­dong, Liaon­ing and Jilin prov­inces also ex­pe­ri­enced smog in the fi­nal days of the hol­i­day, which be­gan on Oct 1.

In the cap­i­tal, winds has dis­persed the pol­lu­tants be­gin­ning Wed­nes­day evening, bring­ing bet­ter air qual­ity in the next two days.

“The heavy air pol­lu­tion made our trip back even harder from the beau­ti­ful coastal city in Xi­a­men, Fu­jian province,” said Chen Yang, 28, who added that she en­joyed the sun­shine for the past five days.

“We saw amaz­ing blue skies for over 10 days be­fore the mil­i­tary pa­rade (on Sept 3 in Bei­jing) — why couldn’t it stay longer?” she said.

Many ne­ti­zens com­plained online about the chok­ing weather, ask­ing for more ef­fec­tive ef­forts by gov­ern­ments to re­duce smog.

Since last year, in ad­di­tion to tough ef­forts to re­duce in­dus­trial pro­duc­tion as well as the use of ve­hi­cles when con­fronted with heavy air pol­lu­tion, en­vi­ron­men­tal watch­dogs have more fre­quently un­der­taken “di­rect talks” with gov­ern­ments whose ju­ris­dic­tions ex­pe­ri­ence heavy pol­lu­tion.

Of­fi­cials of five cities were sum­moned last year to talk with the Min­istry of En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion. Ac­cord­ing to the min­istry, the of­fi­cials were strongly en­cour­aged to take steps to con­trol pol­lu­tion.

The num­ber of cities in­volved in the di­rect talks had in­creased to 20 as of Oc­to­ber. He­bei has been the province with the most such talks with the min­istry since last year.

The talks have had some pos­i­tive ef­fects on the en­vi­ron­ment, the min­istry said, adding that some cities have sternly pun­ished pol­luters, re­sult­ing in no­tice­able im­prove­ments.

But the may­ors of some cities have shown vague at­ti­tudes and slow re­ac­tions to the re­quire­ments, ac­cord­ing to the min­istry.

It re­leased its reg­u­la­tion on “talks” with gov­ern­ments about en­vi­ron­men­tal pol­lu­tion in May last year, a public way to urge de­ci­sion-mak­ers to re­duce pol­lu­tion.

The ma­jor rea­sons for the cities to have the “talks” with en­vi­ron­men­tal watch­dogs were the gov­ern­ments’ poor per­for­mance in meet­ing an­nual tar­gets for en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion, the large num­ber of com­plaints from the public about pol­lu­tion, and se­ri­ous prob­lems ex­posed by the watch­dogs dur­ing in­spec­tions, said Wang Dongqing, deputy head of the min­istry’s mon­i­tor­ing bureau.

Con­tact the writer at zhengjin­ran@chi­nadaily. com.cn

WEI XIAOHAO / CHINA DAILY

A mother and son pose for a selfie on Wed­nes­day dur­ing a break in the China Open ten­nis tour­na­ment in Bei­jing, where smog has per­sisted for days.

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