Beijing announces crackdown on violators of air pollution rules after sandstorms

Beijing announces crackdown on violators of air pollution rules after sandstorms
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Beijing will take aim at violators of air pollution rules over the next month after two sandstorms hammered the city this month.

The Chinese capital saw its biggest sandstorm in years in the middle of March, followed by another that brought its air quality index (AQI) to the ceiling of 500 over the weekend, Reuters reported.

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State media said the city will conduct inspections for all construction sites through April, although the storms are believed to have originated in Mongolia. City officials will also crack down on air quality issues such as insufficient disposal of waste and construction dust, according to the Xinhua news service.

Xinhua reported that investigations of air pollution violations are up 30 percent this year. The increase comes after the city imposed a series of stricter standards on industrial emissions, dissipating much of the smog that had persisted in the city for years.

Although the sandstorm is thought to have started in Mongolia, Li Shuo, policy director for Greenpeace China, told The New York Times earlier this month that it was “the result of land and ecological degradation in the north and west of Beijing.”

“Beijing is what an ecological crisis looks like. After two weeks of smog and static air, strong wind carries a sand storm in, sending AQI off the chart,” Li said earlier this month.