Farmers Still Need Clean Drinking Water

Chinese political advisors and lawmakers have called on the improvement of drinking water safety in the vast countryside, as approximately 320 million rural residents are suffering a shortage of clean drinking water.

The figure revealed by the Ministry of Water Resources indicated the protruding problem in drinking water supply amid various pollution incidents in many key rivers, which presses government institutions to give top priority to the drinking water safety program in the 11th Five-Year (2006-2010) Guidelines for national economic and social development, Li Yangbin, an official with the ministry, has urged.

Li, also a member of the 10th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) which concluded its annual session here on Monday, called for boosting comprehensive investment in the rural areas in line with the drive of building a socialist new countryside, in an effort to basically solve the drinking water problem in 10 years.

Citing a number of river pollution incidents last year, including the Songhua River case in November that forced many riverine cities to suspend water supply for a few days, Xu Xiuyu, a Chinese lawmaker, blamed China's water resource deficiency more on pollution caused by industrial discharge rather than the amount of reserve.

Linking the environment protection results to the examination of officials is necessary to improve their sense of responsibility and performance, Peng Jiarou, a CPPCC National Committee member and a health expert with the prestigious Beijing University, proposed.

Political advisors and lawmakers have suggested strengthening supervision, removing industrial facilities from the water source areas, and clearing up garbage or pollutant materials on the upper reaches of rivers to maintain clean and safe water for people.

(Xinhua News Agency March 13, 2006)

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