20 Jul 2008

Beijing gears up for Olympics with anti-pollution measures

5:19 pm on 20 July 2008

New underground railway lines and a ban on traffic have been introduced in Beijing in a bid to fix traffic congestion and air pollution in time for next month's Olympic Games.

Three new underground railway lines in Beijing were opened this weekend, allowing the Olympic host city to carry an extra 800,000 passengers daily.

Cars will be banned on alternate days depending on whether their license plates end in odd or even numbers, and almost all Beijing's earth and cement works have now been closed.

Beijing hopes to take 45% of the city's 3.3 million cars off the roads and reduce emissions by 63% for a two-month period, which takes in the August 8-24 Olympics and September 6-17 Paralympics.

Authorities have installed more than 10,000 "smart" devices, including cameras and "ultrasonic and microwave" scanners at regular intervals on major trunk roads and dozens of designated Olympic routes.

Cars caught by the surveillance network would be fined 100 yuan ($15), but it was not clear whether drivers could be fined multiple times in one day.

More than 150 high-polluting earth and cement works have been shut for two months, and only five are being retained for "emergency" purposes.