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China to Curb Human Activities Triggering Natural Disasters
China will take measures to effectively control human activities triggering geological disasters, such as landslides and earth subsidence within two years.

Detailed programming, closer monitoring and more complete legal supervision will contribute to preventing further natural disasters, said Land and Resources Minister Tian Fengshan.

Related statistics indicate 700 cities and counties are "seriously" threatened by geological disasters, which claim more than 1,000 lives each year.

The latest serious disaster came earlier this month in Hubei Province, central China. Four people were reported missing in Badong County in a mudslide, while other residents were affected by electricity cuts and road closures for several hours.

Tian said more than half of geological disasters are caused by improper human activities such as excessive mining and wasteland reclamation.

Therefore, the ministry will formulate the country's first regulation on geological disaster prevention later this year.

The ministry is also set to dedicate the next two years to the establishment of a complete and reliable warning mechanism covering all Chinese regions designated as prone to geological disasters.

"So far our ministry has investigated one-tenth of the country for possible geological disasters and is steadily spreading the work to other areas," he added.

Jiang Jianjun, director of the Geological Environment Department of the ministry, called the investigation and monitoring system an efficient way to prevent geological disasters.

Such monitoring has successfully forecast 1,000 geological disasters in the past five years, saving 30,000 people and huge assets, he said.

According to Jiang, China is also investing heavily in engineering projects that treat the geological environment more delicately. "In many cases, with proper engineering measures, many possible geological disasters can be avoided," Jiang said.

China has invested 33.1 million yuan (US$4 million) in the field of prevention since 1999.

This procedure has also been adopted to ensure the Three Gorges reservoir is not affected by such geological disasters.

About 64 percent of the US$483 million project, involving 197 sites in Hubei and Chongqing Municipality in southwest China, has so far been completed, according to Jiang.

The project is scheduled for completion by June 1, he said.

(Xinhua News Agency April 19, 2003)


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