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US$5.3 billion allocated to improve water infrastructures
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China has allocated 38 billion yuan (5.3 billion U.S. dollars) for water infrastructure this year, an increase of 11.8 percent on the financial input for 2007, Chen Lei, Water Resources minister said on Thursday.

The money will mainly go to the country's central and western regions, to rural infrastructure construction related to people's livelihood, and to flood control, water resources utilization and biological conservation and environmental protection projects, said Zhou Xuewen, head of the Ministry of Water Resources's planning department.

Of the total, 10 billion yuan will be used to consolidate reservoirs in danger. Another 6.4 billion yuan, together with 7.24 billion yuan from local governments, will be used for the drinking water supply for 32.05 million people. In addition, 2.5 billion yuan will be invested into large irrigation and water efficiency projects.

Currently, 250 million rural residents have a shortage of safe drinking water and more than 30,000 reservoirs are in danger nationwide. Some cities have had their drinking water sources threatened by pollution, according to Chen.

Last year, the government spent 30.85 billion yuan in capital construction for water resources utilization. Of the total, 18 billion yuan, or 52.8 percent, was used in rural areas.

(Xinhua News Agency February 22, 2008)

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