Chinese authorities have announced a new environmental police squad to combat pollution in Beijing that will crackdown on activities like open-air barbecues, garbage incineration and biomass burning, even as the capital breathed easy on Sunday after reeling under week-long heavy smog.
Clear skies greeted the over 21-million people of the city over the weekend, prompting many to rush outdoors to enjoy the blue and sunny conditions.
People with children, who had been cloistered indoors for the week, took to parks and streets for the first time since the beginning of this year.
Beijing lifted its orange alert for air pollution on Saturday night and emergency measures such as vehicle restrictions and the suspension of factory production ended while construction work recommenced.
Beijing has a four-tier alert system for pollution, with red the highest, followed by orange, yellow and blue.
The orange alert means the air quality index is forecast to exceed 200 for three consecutive days.
During high alerts, heavy polluting vehicles and trucks carrying construction waste are banned from roads and some manufacturing firms cut production.
Blue skies are forecast for the next few days.
Meanwhile, battling recurring pollution, the city has announced that it will soon have environmental police.
Beijing will strengthen environmental protection this year by organising an environmental police force to step up supervision and accountability in its 16 districts, acting mayor Cai Qi said.
"Open-air barbecues, garbage incineration, biomass burning, dust from roads — these acts of non-compliance with regulations are actually the result of lax supervision and weak law enforcement," said Cai at a meeting with press and citizens after a spell of smog lasting more than a week in the city.
His comments came as officials admitted public anger over the week-long pollution crisis in the city. Officials were criticised for not issuing highest alerts to crackdown on factories.
The pollution was so strong that Beijing weather forecast bureau warned on Saturday not to come in contact with polluted snow.
Meteorologist Guo Jianxing, warned the public not to get too close to the snow.
"Because the snow absorbs pollutants, it is dirty," Guo said.
"People should carry umbrellas if they walk outside and quickly brush off any snow that falls on their skin," he was quoted as saying by the state-run Xinhua news agency.
Cai said city's only coal-fired power plant will be closed until after the heating season.
Coal consumption will be cut by 30 per cent to less than 7 million tonnes in 2017. Another 300,000 high-polluting old vehicles will be phased out in 2017.
Cleaner gas and diesel will be put into use starting February 15.
Additionally, 500 manufacturing and polluting factories will be closed, while another 2,560 will be upgraded to meet higher pollution treatment standards.