Fourteen drought-affected provinces will receive a total of 170 million yuan (US$20.6 million) in aid from the Ministry of Finance, it was announced Wednesday.
The funds add to the 315 million yuan (US$38 million) already allocated by the central government to help fight the drought that hit some northern provinces in spring and some southern provinces in summer.
The decision to provide the extra funds came shortly after the State Council's teleconference on drought control attended by representatives from 12 provinces, including Zhejiang, Fujian, Hubei and Guangdong.
Premier Wen Jiabao, in his address to the conference, urged authorities to guarantee water supply in cities and give priority to residential users.
For east China's Zhejiang Province, the hot, dry weather over the last month or so has proven disastrous.
The province's reservoirs were only half full by the end of last month, holding less than 20 billion cubic meters, according to statistics from the local anti-drought office.
And the water levels are still dropping amid extreme temperatures over the past few days.
More than 200,000 hectares of farmland are now in drought and about 172,000 people are short of drinking water in the province.
The lack of water has been exacerbated by power shortages.
Zhejiang's electricity supplies have dropped to 1.28 million to 1.38 million kilowatt (kW), about 0.7 million kW lower than in July.
As the shortages worsen, many residential districts in Hangzhou have had their electricity cut off every two or three days for the first time in the city's history.
Many large enterprises and factories in the city have had to close up shop to ensure sufficient supplies for residents.
The provincial government of Zhejiang was also forced to buy electricity from the East China Electricity Network on August 1, despite the pressures already on the system. The city of Shanghai as well as east China's Jiangsu and Anhui provinces are going to reduce their power usage to help Zhejiang through its energy crisis.
(China Daily August 7, 2003)