Amid growing public anger over recurring smog, Beijing aims to spend $2.6 billion to fight pollution and cap the capital city’s population to 22 million this year, officials said. Beijing will spend more than 18.22 billion yuan (USD 2.6 billion) to combat air pollution in 2017 and aims to control the annual average density of PM 2.5 to around 60 micrograms this year, Lu Yan, head of the Beijing Municipal Reform and Development Commission said.
PM 2.5 are fine particles measuring no more than 2.5 micrometers in diameter. The announcement came as Beijing along with 20 other cities suffered prolonged smog for over two weeks during which officials were criticised for not enforcing the red alert. Subsequently, the local administration has announced formation of environmental police to enforce the rules strictly.
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Beijing has reduced coal use by two million tonnes last year. In 2017, 700 villages will switch from coal to clean energy. Total coal use will be cut by 30 per cent to seven million tonnes and 300,000 outdated vehicles will be phased out, the Beijing municipal government work report, submitted to the on-going meetings of local legislature and political advisory body.
Beijing will take tougher measures to improve the city’s air quality this year. Also the city is on course to cap its population at 22 million in 2017 as the capital saw its population growth rate slow down last year, said Cai Qi, deputy Party chief and acting mayor of the city. The city will reward buildings and districts that use environmental friendly technologies, Li Yingjin, head of the Beijing’s finance bureau said. Beijing plans to remove non-essential functions and improve urban management, said Cai while delivering the city’s annual government work report to the annual session of the Beijing Municipal People’s Congress today.
The municipal budget will allocate a guidance fund of 10 billion yuan ( USD 1.45 billion) for the campaign. The non-essential functions include manufacturing, logistics, and wholesale markets. Six downtown districts – Dongcheng, Xicheng, Chaoyang, Haidian, Fengtai and Shijingshan – achieved negative population growth for the first time last year.
The campaign includes the demolishing of illegal buildings with total floor space of more than 40 million square meters, relocating or improving 158 market and logistics centers, and closing more than 500 general manufacturing and polluting companies, according to Lu Yan, head of Beijing development and reform commission. Beijing’s population exceeded 21 million in 2015. The city aims to cap it at 23 million by 2020.