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China issues anti-drought regulations
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China's State Council, or Cabinet, announced Friday a set of anti-drought regulations, signed by Premier Wen Jiabao, following "the worst dry spell in five decades" in the past winter that affected millions of people and large area of farmlands.

The regulations provided for the setting up of a unified system on drought information collection and release, anti-drought insurance, and detailed circumstances that artificial rain could be induced to alleviate drought.

From October of 2008 through February, persistent dry weather hit most parts of northern China, parching 161 million mu (10.73 hectares) of cropland, leaving 4.37 million people and 2.1 million heads of livestock short of drinking water.

Governments at all levels were held responsible for funding drought relief work, the regulations said.

The regulations outline governments' backing for developing water-saving technologies. Projects for water storage, diversion, water pumping and rain collection should be built in water-scarce regions by local governments.

Meteorological departments should better their weather monitoring ability and forecast skills to provide timely information for anti-drought fights. They are authorized to induce artificial rain when it is the appropriate time.

In places of prolonged severe drought, the government should order a limit or a halt to high-water-consuming industries from production and cap their discharge of industrial waste water.

In this case, water supply for agriculture and people in urban areas should be reduced. Water from reservoirs, hydroelectric power stations and lakes in the drought-hit regions should be transferred to ease drought.

(Xinhua News Agency March 7, 2009)

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