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Millions in Sichuan pray for rain

Category:[world] [CHINA] [Regional]

CHENGDU: Continued droughts have left nearly 4 million people in Southwest China's Sichuan Province short of drinking water.

Since early last month, Sichuan has witnessed a rise in rainfall. But due to the uneven distribution of rainfall and continued high temperatures, 46 cities, districts and counties in the province are suffering from drought, Zuo Xiong, deputy chief of Sichuan Weather Bureau, said.

A total of 3.988 million people and 4.46 million cattle have inadequate drinking water, and 116,000 people have to rely on water wagons to supply them drinking water, he said.

Droughts are hampering farm production in the province as about 333,000 hectares of paddy fields are waiting for rain to plant rice, according to Zhao Shiyong, an agronomist in the Sichuan provincial department of agriculture.

In some drought-hit areas, rice has been planted in fewer than 50 percent of paddy fields.

In Luzhou and Zigong in southern Sichuan, between 30 percent and 50 percent of the paddy fields become dry soon after rice is planted, and some rice crops have withered because of the lack of water, he said.

Suining, which has suffered from droughts lasting more than 30 days, has 10,333 hectares of paddy fields needing rain.

Guanyin Township in Suining is the hardest-hit area in the city.

Its 13,000-plus residents and more than 25,000 cattle have difficulty in getting access to drinking water. Of its 98 wells, 80 are dry, while two of its three reservoirs are dry.

Its residents have to rely on armed policemen to send them water every day, Zhao Yi, a township official, said.

By the end of last month, water stored in the province's water conservancy projects was 774 million cubic meters less than the same period last year.

The Sichuan provincial government has asked governments at all levels to make solving the water shortage crisis a top priority, and has sent more than 20 work groups to different parts of the province to assist local governments in the war against drought.

(China Daily 06/06/2007 page5)



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