Chinese authorities have announced a new environmental police squad to combat pollution in Beijing to crackdown on activities like open-air barbecues, garbage incineration and biomass burning, even as the capital breathed easy on Sunday after reeling under week-long heavy smog.
Clear sky greeted the over 21-million people of the city over the weekend, prompting many to rush outdoors to enjoy the blue and sunny conditions.
People with children, who had been cloistered indoors for the week, took to parks and streets for the first time since the beginning of 2017.
Beijing lifted its orange alert for air pollution on Friday night and emergency measures such as vehicle restrictions and the suspension of factory production ended while construction work recommenced.
Beijing has a four-tier alert system for pollution, with red the highest, followed by orange, yellow and blue.
The orange alert means the air quality index is forecast to exceed 200 for three consecutive days.
During high alerts, heavy polluting vehicles and trucks carrying construction waste are banned from roads and some manufacturing firms cut production.
Blue skies are forecast for the next few days.
Meanwhile, battling recurring pollution, the city has announced that it will soon have environmental police.
Beijing will strengthen environmental protection this year by organising an environmental police force to step up supervision and accountability in its 16 districts, acting mayor Cai Qi said.
“Open-air barbecues, garbage incineration, biomass burning, dust from roads—these acts of non-compliance with regulations are actually the result of lax supervision and weak law enforcement,” said Cai at a meeting with press and citizens after a spell of smog lasting more than a week in the city.
His comments came as officials admitted public anger over the week-long pollution crisis in the city. Officials were criticised for not issuing highest alerts to crackdown on factories.
The pollution was so strong that Beijing weather forecast bureau warned on Friday not to come in contact with polluted snow.
Meteorologist Guo Jianxing, warned the public not to get too close to the snow.
“Because the snow absorbs pollutants, it is dirty,” Guo said.
“People should carry umbrellas if they walk outside and quickly brush off any snow that falls on their skin,” he was quoted as saying by the state-run Xinhua news agency.