Beijingers are expected to have a different 2006 Spring Festival (Chinese traditional lunar new year) accompanied by firecrackers, due to the new draft regulations on loosing crackers.
"Beijing Safety Regulations on Fireworks and Firecrackers (draft)" was the discussion focus at the 21st meeting of the 12th Standing Committee of the Beijing Municipal People's Congress Tuesday.
The new draft regulations loose locations and time for setting off firecrackers: with the fifth ring road as the boundary, the whole city is divided into firecrackers area and areas forbidding firecrackers.
A major difference to the former regulations is that even in the firecrackers forbidden areas, citizens can play firecrackers during Spring Festival period and other key festivals.
However, strict ban remains unchanged for regions around culture heritages, stations, airport and hospitals, all of which are vulnerable to firecracker damages.
The "bang" sound of firecrackers was for centuries the distinctive feature of the Spring Festival -- a traditional Chinese festival of family union and joy.
Firecrackers setting off was banned 12 years ago in Beijing, for they were considered environment unfriendly and sometime induced safety loops.
In the past 12 years, the ban on firecrackers has been severely questioned by Beijing citizens, who held that it was unacceptable to change folk tradition which was handed down from their forefathers.
Some citizens even showed open defiance to the regulations by setting off firecrackers in Spring Festival period. Instead of heavy workload for firemen and street cleaners, policemen found themselves much more busier for seizing citizens who broke the firecracker-ban regulation and caused damages.
Ma Zhengchuan, director of the Beijing Public Security Bureau, said that the firecracker ban has played active role in safeguarding public security and maintaining normal social order.
"Remarkably in the first few years the ban has helped us to reduce the casualty and property loss triggered by firecrackers setting off.
The call for erasing the ban, not only echoed at the webs, medias, but also the hot discussion topics for the representatives of the countries highest legislation body -- national people's congress at their annual session.
Ma admitted that it has become harder for related departments to enforce the ban, and the "authority was impaired to some extent."
Beijing municipal government has faced heavier pressure with other big cities as Shanghai and Nanjing erased the ban on firecrackers. The municipal government started taking action by setting up work teams for new regulations and soliciting advices from experts. A survey done by the working team shows that 60 to 90 percent of the Beijing citizens agree to set off fireworks and firecrackers in Spring Festival period.
Zhou Jidong, an official with the municipal government said
modification difficulties lie in that Beijing should take efficient measures to ensure the safety of crackers production, circulation and sales, for Beijing itself is not firecrackers production base.
To ban or not to ban, that is not the essential question, which lies in the intense attention to safety problem. A survey by the government web tells that most citizens hold that the government should take more stringent measures to crack down on illegal activities regarding firecrackers production, sale and transportation, once the new regulations put into implementation.
Worries of the citizens turn to be useful, for the government has clearly stated in the new draft regulation the whole process concerning firecrackers production, sale and transportation will be strictly monitored.
Fines will be imposed on those who don't obey the new regulations by illegally carrying and setting off firecrackers. Professor Hu Jun with Peking University said efficient implementation not only tests governing capability of departments, but also requires self-discipline quality of the citizens.