China swings into action to curb dreaded winter pollution

Beijing, Oct 13: China has swung into action to control air pollution ahead of the winter season when it gets worse and chokes millions in various cities of the country.

The government has asked the smoke-belching steel and coal factories to cut down production. Some have been ordered to shut down.

China is targeting a drop of at least 15 per cent in the level of PM 2.5 particles in 28 cities in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region as well as in Shandong and Shanxi provinces between October 2017 and March 2018, state media reported.

China is spending hundreds of billions to tackle air pollution and has shut polluting industries. In 2015, 1.1 million died from pollution.

Beijing is the world's most polluted city. The pollution worsens in winter when the coal-fired heating system is turned on.

Smog-laden sky is a common sight in the megacity during the winter. In the last week of December in 2016, pollution rose to such a level that Beijingers and others living in the city fled to other provinces.

According to the Global Times, 31 cities have pledged to restrict activity in factories.

Three cities recently joined other regions in northern China in implementing measures to fight air pollution as the heaviest pollution season approaches.

Shanxi, China's top coal-producing region, vowed to cut PM 2.5 levels and sulphur dioxide by 40 per cent from October to March, Xinhua news agency reported.

East China's Shandong province requires the city of Linyi to shut down steel, iron, ferro-nickel and manganese iron production from November 15 this year to March 15, 2018.

Xuzhou, in East China's Jiangsu province, will also take anti-pollution measures.

Experts said the move shows the government's determination to fight air pollution this winter, as more residents grow increasingly concerned about health risks.

On Thursday, the city of Tangshan, in Hebei province, began enforcing the odd-and-even licence plate scheme for automobiles, and local iron and steel plants began to limit production a month ahead of schedule, China National Radio reported.

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