Street food, home renovation banned to clear air for Games

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 26 October, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 26 October, 2010, 12:00am

Some popular street food, such as Xinjiang skewed lamb and Cantonese marinated beef, will be banned in nine Guangdong cities during the Asian Games next month, the provincial environmental watchdog said yesterday.

In addition, residents in these Pearl River Delta cities including Guangzhou, Foshan and Dongguan - which will host events for the Games - will have to stop renovation to help in controlling air pollution. The Games will be held between November 12 and 27.

Beijing had also banned street food during the 2008 Olympic Games but on a relatively small scale: the restriction applied only in the city's more prominent areas and there was no curb on renovation.

According to Guangdong's environmental protection plan unveiled yesterday, seven major measures will be enforced from November 1 to December 20, which might cause a potential economic loss of more than 10 billion yuan (HK$11.66 billion).

The ban on street food, which is to reduce smoke, and renovation is the smallest of the seven. Other measures include cutting emissions of industrial waste gas, dust from construction projects, pollution by cargo ships and vehicular exhaust.

For example, only 60 per cent of the berths in the ports of Guangzhou and Dongguan will be available during the Games period. All ships below 500 tonnes will have to apply for berth permits at both ports three days in advance.

No ships with strong pollutants, such as liquid gas, oil and bulk dangerous chemicals, will be allowed to anchor.

Chen Guangrong , a deputy chief of the Guangdong Environmental Protection Department, said the measures in the next two months would affect many people and enterprises and cause economic loss.

But, he said: 'It is the price enterprises [that generate pollution] should pay for using the environment.'

Chen said there was no estimate of such losses at the provincial level, but Yang Liu , a deputy chief of the Guangzhou Environmental Protection Bureau, said the cost would be about 10 billion yuan because at least 72 heavy polluters in the city would either be shut down or suspended during the Games.

Yang also said that up to 113 other enterprises might also have to shut for three to five days if pollution worsened during the Games period. And this would cost the city an additional 100 million yuan.

Chen said that after the hard work since 2004, when Guangzhou won the right to host the Games, the hosting cities had accomplished the environmental protection tasks set six years ago as thousands of polluters had been closed or moved out of the region.

'We have done our job. My biggest concern now is whether the heavens will help us [during the Games],'' he said.

Smog has been bothering the Pearl River Delta area for years. A report from the Guangzhou Environmental Monitoring Centre said last year the city was plagued by smog between November 23 and 28 and the average level of particulate matter (PM10) of less than 10 microns in diameter that week was 200 micrograms per cubic metre.

Official figures showed the average level of PM10, which is created mainly through the burning of fossil fuels such as petrol in vehicles and is regarded as a major threat to athletes' health, was 66 micrograms per cubic metre in Guangzhou last year, a little higher than the World Health Organisation's standard of 50 micrograms.