Heavy smog over Beijing ahead of parliament sitting

Beijing, March 4 (IANS) People were back to wearing masks in the smog-laden Chinese capital on Friday, the eve of the annual session of parliament that is set to discuss the worsening environmental pollution in the country.

After a series of sunny days, smog descended upon the city on Thursday, prompting the meteorological department to issue a ‘yellow alert’.

The smog grew thicker on Friday and the temperature dipped.

“I think it’s because of people coming back to work after the Spring Festival holiday. There are more cars on roads and factories on the outskirts have begun working too,” a resident of Beijing told IANS.

Beijing is one of the world’s most polluted cities, with maddening traffic and factories contributing to the air pollution. In December last year, it issued its first ‘red alert’ for smog and ordered closure of schools.

China has a four-tier warning system for weather changes with red as the most severe, followed by orange, yellow and blue.

The issue will be discussed at the annual session of the National People’s Congress (NPC) — China’s parliament — which convenes on Saturday.

“It is a complicated issue and there is growing concern in the government,” Fu Ying, a spokesperson of the NPC, said at a press conference in the Great Hall here.

To curb pollution, the government has cracked down on polluting industries, shutting 17,000 of them last year for violating emission norms.

(Gaurav Sharma is the Beijing-based correspondent of IANS. He can be contacted at gaurav.s@ians.in)

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