Chinese capital to shut 2,500 firms over pollution

People walking on a pedestrian bridge on a heavily polluted day in Beijing, China on Jan 3.
People walking on a pedestrian bridge on a heavily polluted day in Beijing, China on Jan 3.PHOTO: REUTERS

SHANGHAI - Beijing will close 2,500 small polluting firms this year in its latest effort to combat pollution, reported state news agency Xinhua, citing the municipal government.

Pollution is a sensitive topic in China, with thousands of protests sparked every year by concerns about environmental degradation, particularly from factories.

Four districts in the capital, which has been hit by bouts of choking smog this winter, will be required to shut down 2,500 companies by the end of the year, with more scheduled to be closed next year, Xinhua said on Saturday.

 
 

Quoting an unnamed official, it said rising numbers of small polluting sources such as restaurants, hotels and garages offset the impact of a dramatic fall in the number of heavy polluting and high energy- consuming companies in the city.

Last month, Beijing issued its second ever "red alert" over heavy air pollution, closing schools and banning outdoor construction.

On Saturday, the Environment Ministry cautioned that heavy smog would return next week to Beijing, the province of Hebei and nearby Tianjin. Official data showed Beijing's average PM2.5 reading last year was 80.6 micrograms per cu m, 1.3 times more than the national standard, Xinhua said.

China has vowed to slash coal consumption and shut down polluting industries, but environmental officials admit the country is unlikely to meet state air quality standards until at least 2030.

Beijing's environmental watchdog levied fines totalling about 183 million yuan (S$40 million) for violations of pollution laws in Beijing last year, Xinhua said last Friday.

The agency did not offer a comparative full-year figure, but state media reported last year that the 100 million yuan Beijing collected in pollution fines in the first nine months of last year was almost twice the amount for the same period during 2014.

REUTERS, XINHUA

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 11, 2016, with the headline 'Chinese capital to shut 2,500 firms over pollution'. Print Edition | Subscribe