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Beijing Drives High-emission Vehicles off Road

Beijing banned more than a quarter million high-emission vehicles from its roads on Tuesday, part of a drive to curb pollution ahead of the Olympics.

In the capital, about 300,000 high-emission motor vehicles that don't meet the exhaust standards won't be allowed on the road until September 20. However, their owners will be compensated with tax breaks and exemption from road maintenance fees during the period.

Previously, such vehicles were only allowed to hit the road in certain areas and hours.

Du Shaozhong, deputy director of the Beijing Environmental Protection Bureau, said the vehicles, about 10 percent of the total in Beijing, discharge about half of the total exhaust volume.

Vehicles registered outside Beijing must obtain special permits and meet emission standards before entering the capital during the period.

At more than 110 checkpoints surrounding Beijing, traffic police and environmental protection staff began vehicle inspections on Tuesday. Cars, tractors and trucks that lacked the required permits were stopped and urged to leave the capital area.

Random checks on such vehicles will also be performed in some areas during the three-month period, said Du.

Yu Jie, deputy director of the Beijing Transportation Management Bureau, said the restriction could affect freight transport as many high-emission vehicles, mostly trucks, were used to transport food and other daily necessities in and out of Beijing.

He said 4,000 vehicles with the required permits have been designated to transport such supplies. They will not be bound by the alternate-day driving limits on private cars that start on July 20, depending on the number plates.

The new emission rules accompanied a raft of measures in Beijing that included closing or relocating high-pollution businesses and expanding the public transit system. Half of the government vehicles will be taken off the capital's roads as well.

Despite worries over pollution and chronic traffic problems, Beijing environmental protection bureau statistics showed 13 more blue-sky days in the first six months than a year earlier, the best figure in nine years.

(Xinhua News Agency June 2, 2008)

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