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Worsening Drought Parches Guangdong

The sustained drought in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong continues to worsen, threatening the province's late rice harvest as well as other crops.

By Saturday, more than 730,000 hectares of farmland were reported to have been affected, an increase of 20,000 hectares from the figure reported at the end of October. More than 36,667 hectares are barren, an increase of 2,667 hectares compared with last month's data.

Some 85 cities and counties in Guangdong, or more than 80 percent of the province's area, have been affected by the drought, an official from the Guangdong Provincial Bureau of Water Conservation reported on Sunday.

Also on Sunday, quotas for water to Guangzhou, the provincial capital, the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone, Dongguan, Huizhou and other cities in the eastern Pearl River Delta were reduced by 10 percent.

The water flow on the Dongjiang River, a major tributary of the Pearl River, has dropped at least 80 percent since autumn last year.

The Dongjiang, located in eastern Guangdong, provides drinking water to more than 36 million people.

The water shortage in the eastern part of Guangdong alone is now more than 500 million tons, the water conservation official told China Daily.

The cities where drought has hit hardest include Shaoguan, Qingyuan, Zhaoqing, Yunfu, Zhangjiang, Maoming and Meizhou in the western and northern parts of the province.

The Guangdong provincial government is planning to establish a special task force that will guide and coordinate anti-drought efforts and rationalize use of water resources.

Provincial Vice Governor Li Ronggen has urged government departments and officials to give priority to ensuring drinking water supplies to local people and domestic animals.

(China Daily November 22, 2004)

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