BEIJING, CHINA - THE Beijing city government says it will implement a sweeping plan to stop construction and close heavy industries to improve the environment for the Olympics.
The city's environmental protection body said Monday that all digging and pouring of concrete on construction sites will be suspended from July 20 to Sept 20.
Nineteen heavy-polluting industries also have been told to cut their emissions by a further 30 per cent.
Pollution - in addition to the violence in Tibet and other human rights issues - has been a major concern for China before the August games.
Beijing bars exempted from pre-Olympics smoking ban
Meanwhile, restaurants, bars and Internet cafes in Beijing have been exempted from a proposed public smoking ban in response to concerns expressed by business owners, state media said on Monday.
The venues will only be asked to separate smoking and non-smoking areas from May 1 as part of the new regulations, the China Daily said.
'Owners of Chinese restaurants - both big and small - worried the plan would hurt their business,' the newspaper said, quoting a Beijing official.
Beijing had planned to ban or restrict smoking in most public places as part of its pledge to hold a smoke-free Olympics.
The amended rules mean only government offices, schools, museums, hospitals and sports venues will be designated smoke-free areas.
The Chinese are the world's most enthusiastic smokers, with a growing market of more than 350 million, making it a magnet for cigarette companies and a focus of international health concerns.
Beijing banned smoking in taxis in October and launched an awareness drive targeting businesses and residents last year.
But resistance to the campaign has been fierce. -- REUTERS, AP