Henan Province plans to install 20,000 surveillance cameras this year to monitor the burning of straw or rubbish on farmland, which can cause fires and pollute the air.
According to the Henan provincial Department of Agriculture, it is part of the province's plan to set up what it calls the Blue-Sky Guard system, which was developed to achieve a goal of zero-fires through real-time monitoring.
The system can continuously monitor farmland and remind people not to burn straw, said Ning Xiaofeng, an official of the provincial department.
"Installing these cameras will help detect fires as early as possible," he said.
He declined to say how much the system will cost.
Last year, more than 1,300 such cameras were installed in parts of the province in a trial program. The department found no burning of straw or rubbish near those cameras, and the move has reduced the cost of sending people to patrol those areas by half, he said.
So far, more than 14,500 cameras have been installed in various counties, including Yongcheng and Luyi, he said.
The department has promised harsh punishments for anyone who violates the ban on burning straw. If evidence of burning is found, the county or district will be fined 500,000 yuan (,000).
When the 20,000 cameras are all in place by the end of this month, the system will cover 70 percent of farmland in the province, Ning said.
It is estimated that the fully developed system will need about 30,000 cameras to cover all farmland.
But he said not all farmland is suitable for surveillance cameras. "We have to count on grassroots civil servants to patrol those areas," he added.