Building to be banned during winter ‘heating season’ in bid to cut levels of toxic smog.
China is to halt almost every major building project in Beijing in a bid to tackle the city’s air pollution crisis that is blamed for thousands of early deaths each year.
Construction of road and water systems, as well as housing demolition, will be suspended across most of the capital during winter.
The ban will be enforced in Beijing’s six downtown districts and surrounding suburbs from 15 November for four months, the period when heating supplied is to the city’s homes by the local government.
The municipal commission of housing and development pledged to severely punish any breaches of the restriction, reported state news agency Xinhua.
Some “major livelihood projects”, such as railways, airports and affordable housing, will be allowed to continue if they secure special permission from the commission.
China is in the fourth year of a «war against pollution» as it looks to reduce choking smog, which regularly reaches dangerous levels in parts of the country, and tackle severe water and soil pollution.
Its government has long struggled to strike a balance between protecting the environment and maintaining economic growth, and has sought to reform its energy-hungry, high-pollution industries.
Cement and casting factories in Beijing and some other parts of the country have been ordered to halt production during winter, while steel plants in the surrounding province of Hebei will be forced to halve their output.
In December last year, millions of people in 24 cities across north-east China were advised not to leave their homes as thick, grey smog engulfed the region. The red alert warning triggered the closure of schools, restrictions on road traffic, and the cancellation of flights.
Despite efforts to cut pollution, air quality in China worsened during the first half of 2017. Some 338 cities including Beijing reported fewer clean air days than last year, with the government blaming demand for heating from residents dependent on coal-fired power stations.
Many residential buildings in the capital, as well as hundreds of other cities in China’s north, are warmed by government central heating systems that are only switched on between November 15 and March 15.
Homes only receive heating outside those months if temperatures fall below 5C for five consecutive days.