Beijing to implement ‘odd-even’ scheme to fight air pollution

Beijing: Bracing for heavy smog, Beijing city will implement the road rationing scheme “odd-even” from tonight and suspend schools bracing for heavy smog after the Chinese capital issued its first red alert for air pollution this year.

Approved by the municipal government, the red alert is being activated from 8 PM (local time) on Friday and is expected to be lifted on December 21 when the air quality in the city improved.

According to the transportation administration commission, the “odd-even” car restriction system determined by the final digit of a vehicle’s license plate is being implemented from tonight (December 16) while additional public transportation will be arranged with more buses running for longer.

The commission expects five lakh more trips through metro and other public transportation for the duration of the red alert.

All 44 road construction and maintenance sites have been ordered to halt work, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

Older and high-polluting vehicles are strictly banned as more enforcement forces from environmental protection, transportation and urban management authorities have been dispatched to the streets for inspection.

The city’s education department also ordered all kindergartens, primary schools and private training centres to suspend classes during the red alert, and gave middle schools flexibility to cancel classes if they consider it necessary.

According to an updated emergency response plan for severe air pollution which was released in November and took effect on Thursday, a red alert is issued if the city’s Air Quality Index (AQI) reaches 500.

Four consecutive days of heavy air pollution (AQI reading surpassing 200), including two days of severe air pollution (AQI reading surpassing 300), can also activate a red alert.