Construction Site and Car Ban Reveals a Clear Sky

The novelty of the idea for commemorating a victory and honoring the past with a clear-blue sky instead of the usual smoggy grey, unarguably deserves an ovation. China marked the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II and the defeat of Japan, a beautifully azure-blue, on September 3.

Photograph Courtesy: Steven J.

Photograph Courtesy: Steven J.

Photograph Courtesy: Steven J.

Photograph Courtesy: Steven J.

Blue is the color of Beijing, being home to the famous ‘blue of Jingtai’, or, the artwork of cloisonné. This year its sky was rendered blue as well, ridding the city of pollution in the process for a span of two whole weeks.

This ingenious and unimaginable feat for a city bathed in smog all year round, was achieved by restricting the use of private vehicles on streets, banning eighty percent of the vehicles belonging to social groups, local governments, institutions etc., forbidding the vehicles carrying construction waste, chemicals etc., suspending the work of polluting industries and putting off all demolition as well as construction work, for two weeks straight.

Photograph Courtesy: Steven J.

Photograph Courtesy: Steven J.

Construction and demolition work together take the responsibility of emitting 4% of Particulate Matter into the air. Activities like land clearing, cement mixing, use of toxic materials, diesel engines, etc. are the major polluters, dust being the common entity.

Around 40,000 construction sites were shut down for the duration. Shutting all the construction completely, even if only for two weeks, must have caused delay in progress of the work, especially in a busy city like Beijing, where rushing is how you begin a day. But in the end all the toil was worth it when, one fine day, the sky gradually started clearing its way to the azure-blue beauty, which was akin to the ‘APEC blue’ China witnessed during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit last November. This one was termed ‘Military Parade Blue’.

Photograph Courtesy: Steven J.

Photograph Courtesy: Steven J.

In a city where visibility can be as less as 200 meters, people could see buildings in the distance, the Particulate Matter levels dropped by 73.2% and the severity of air pollution shot down to 17 out of 500, which is healthy by international standards. Therefore, it wasn’t a surprise when people were dismayed to find again, the same grey smog on Friday with pollution levels rising to 160 out of 500.

In the sky, the change was evident, but, it was the people of Beijing who reflected this change.

Photograph Courtesy: Steven J.

Photograph Courtesy: Steven J.

By: Antara Jha

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