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December 31, 2015

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City bans fireworks to clear the air

SHANGHAI is banning fireworks within the Outer Ring Road from tomorrow in a bid to curb air pollution, according to a regulation approved by the city legislature yesterday.

The only exception is for some special occasions when the city government will temporarily adjust the restricted areas and periods, according to a supplement to the new regulation.

The new rule also bans fireworks across the entire city on days of severe air pollution.

Under the regulation, anyone flouting the ban will be fined up to 500 yuan (US$77).

“We will punish more severely those who illegally manufacture, transport, store or sell fireworks or firecrackers that have also been banned within the Outer Ring Road to curb it at the source,” said Ding Wei, director of the Shanghai People’s Congress’s legislation department.

Anyone illegally storing or selling fireworks within the Outer Ring Road will be fined up to 100,000 yuan.

The former regulation, which applied only inside the Inner Ring Road, carried a maximum fine of 50,000 yuan.

Beyond the Outer Ring Road, fireworks will be banned in areas near government buildings, historic structures, bus and railway stations, marinas, airports, power facilities, hospitals, schools, markets and religious areas.

Fireworks, though traditionally a key part of festivities, create smog and release harmful substances, Ding said.

Sales have been dropping off as the public becomes more aware of pollution.

Xu Jiping, deputy director of the department, said the maximum density of PM2.5, the microscopic particles that can penetrate deep into the lungs, dropped to 67 micrograms per cubic meter on the eve of this year’s Spring Festival from 290 micrograms in 2014.

Ding said the new rules will provide a great challenge for police and law enforcement officers.

“Police have promised that they will dispatch more officers, launch training and make sure residents are informed of the new regulation,” he said.

A survey by the congress found 89 percent of residents supported the ban, he said.

More than 80 percent agreed there should be stricter law enforcement measures to ensure clean air, while about 20 percent of lawmakers advocated a total fireworks ban across the entire city.

Shanghai residents are urged to call 12345 or contact the police if they spot anyone flouting the fireworks ban.


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