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Paris mired in smog as drivers ignore ban

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PARIS: French police struggled to impose anti-pollution measures on motorists around Paris yesterday as the city remained shrouded in smog during its worst winter pollution in 10 years.

Since Tuesday, officials in the Paris region have ordered half of all private cars off the road, alternating between a ban on registration plates ending in odd or even numbers.

But the local air-monitoring service AirParif has cast doubt on the effectiveness of the restrictions and AFP reporters saw many motorists flouting the ban yesterday.

"I wasn't going to buy another vehicle to go to work today!" said 31-year-old builder Jug, who was waiting in his truck to pay a fine of 22 euros (S$33) after being stopped by police.

France's Environment Minister Segolene Royal, who has been criticised in several newspapers for failing to take action, announced cabinet-level talks to clean up transport on Saturday.

The surge in pollution around Paris and in other parts of France showed "that much more robust measures are indispensable", Ms Royal told AFP.

She said new initiatives could include extending incentives for the purchase of electric cars.

She would also propose forcing motorists to display colour-coded air-quality certificates on vehicles so that the dirtiest of them could be banned during the next pollution alert.

The current spike in pollution offered a "good opportunity", said Ms Royal, since people would be more willing to accept constraints having been made more aware of the problem.

For more than a week, the Paris region has been on pollution alert with levels of fine airborne particles known as PM10 consistently above 80 microgrammes per cubic metre of air. - AFP