Shanghai obeys fireworks ban

Updated: 2016-02-15 08:03

By Zhou Wenting in Shanghai(China Daily)

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The Spring Festival holiday was a much quieter affair in Shanghai this year with the enforcement of a new citywide fireworks ban.

Introduced in response to concerns over air pollution, the ban came into effect at the beginning of this year, prohibiting the use of pyrotechnics at any time within the city's outer ring road.

As a result the use of fireworks and firecrackers in this area dropped to zero, according to Shanghai police, despite it being a centuries-old tradition for Chinese to usher in the Lunar New Year with pyrotechnics.

An 80 percent decrease in their use was also recorded outside the ring road, with just 62 metric tons of debris cleared away on the morning of Feb 12 - the peak time for firecrackers to be set off as it is the fifth day of the Chinese lunar calendar and believed to be the birthday of the God of Wealth.

A total of 50,000 police officers and volunteers patrolled areas within the outer ring road to detect violations, and notices about the ban were posted every 50 meters on some main streets.

In Beijing, where lighting firecrackers and fireworks is allowed from 7 am to midnight on the fifth day of the lunar calendar, roughly 140 tons of debris of pyrotechnics were cleared away that day, which was a decline of more than 50 percent from the previous year.

Wu Xiaoyue, a 28-year-old resident of Shanghai's downtown Xuhui district, said she had enjoyed lighting firecrackers with her father on New Year's Eve for as long as she could remember, but had to resort to an electric noisemaker substitute this year.

"We played with it at home. It seemed a little weird, but it's understandable that we must all contribute to reducing air pollution, which I believe is the main reason why residents abided by the ban," she said.

Shanghai obeys fireworks ban

Setting off firecrackers and fireworks is known to produce PM2.5, which refers to particulate matter with a diameter of less than 2.5 micrometers, identified as a carcinogen by the World Health Organization.

Wu said in the past, the streets of Shanghai were like a red carpet overflowing with the debris from firecrackers on the morning of the New Year's Day, but this year she did not hear any.

"It has become a joke in Shanghai these days. If you can hear the sound of firecrackers, then clearly your apartment is only worth between 20,000 yuan ($3,044) and 30,000 yuan per square meter," Wu said. "If you hear nothing, your home must be worth at least 80,000 yuan per square meter."

Anyone found violating the ban faced a fine of up to 500 yuan and having their names put on a credit blacklist, which would create an obstacle when applying for loans, jobs, or public welfare.

Wu said the threat of such punishments had worked as an effective deterrent.

But some people think that the ban should be extended to all the city's suburbs. Among them is Xiao Jie, who lives in Songjiang district in Shanghai's southwestern suburbs and is the mother to an 11-month-old baby girl.

"I held my daughter in my arms throughout the night of the countdown as she couldn't sleep because of the earsplitting firecrackers and was scared to tears over and over again," Xiao said.

(China Daily 02/15/2016 page5)