Beijing Water

China to spend $3 billion on water projects

November 18, 2008

BEIJING, Nov 18 (Reuters) – China has earmarked 20 billion yuan ($3 billion) of a massive economic stimulus packet for shoring up risky reservoirs, improving irrigation networks and supplying clean drinking water in rural areas, state media said.

Beijing said earlier this month it planned to spend an extra 4 trillion yuan to try and boost domestic demand and help protect China’s economy ride out the global financial crisis.

Government funds for water projects are to be assigned within 10 days and the money spent by March, the official Xinhua agency said in a report, underlining Beijing’s desire to set cash flowing through the economy as soon as possible.

The planned spending also dovetails with core goals to cut the economic divide between urban and rural areas and solve basic issues like clean water for people in the poorest parts of China.

“Our target is to enhance the safety of key reservoirs by 2010, provide qualified drinking water for all rural residents by 2013 and complete the construction of water-saving facilities for large-scale irrigation areas across the country by 2020,” Xinhua quoted Vice Premier Hui Liangyu as saying.

Drought and floods are perennial problems in China, which has per capita water resources that are well below the global average. Its meteorologists have said global climate change is exacerbating extreme weather, including droughts.

At present more than one third of the country’s reservoirs are officially rated risky, and a third of all counties and villages do not have adequate water infrastructure, Xinhua said.

The spending may also bolster grain output, a another key aim for a leadership that does not like being dependent on foreign nations to feed too much of its vast population.

Over half the country’s arable land does not have even basic irrigation, cutting potential yields by as much as 50 billion kg (110.2 billion lbs) a year, Xinhua said. ($1=6.826 Yuan)

(Reporting by Emma Graham-Harrison)

Categories: Beijing Water

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