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Guangdong Increases Artificial Rainfall to Fight Drought

Drought-plagued south China's Guangdong Province will increase cloud seeding to bring some much-needed rain.


Rockets will be used to seed clouds, having been deployed in major cities such as Shantou, Shaoguan, Heyuan, Qingyuan, Meizhou, Chaozhou, Shanwei, Zhanjiang and Maoming.


The central government has approved the province's plan to create more artificial rain, said Yu Yong, director of the Guangdong Provincial Observatory.


The province's drought continues to threaten the local economy, especially farming, fishing and livestock raising.


The drought has even cast some doubt over the province's ability to maintain medium and long-term water resources.


Guangdong has reached agreements with the Civil Aviation Administration of China and the local garrison of People's Liberation Army for the launch of more cloud-seeding rockets, Yu told China Daily yesterday.


The province has established a special task force, led by Vice-Governor Li Ronggen, to take responsibility for artificial rain early this month. Yu has been appointed as deputy director.


Cloud-seeding rockets will be launched over the coming years when droughts are expected to hit the province on a frequent basis, Yu said.


Guangdong has invested more than 8 million yuan (US$981,000) to study and develop equipment and technologies for the launch of the rockets over the past two years.


According to an official from the Guangdong Provincial Bureau of Water Conservancy, drought is now threatening many cities in the province which used to frequently be flooded in the spring and summer.


The drought-hit areas include Zhanjiang, Maoming, Shantou, Chaozhou and Jieyang in the province's eastern and western parts, where agriculture and forestry play an important role in local economic growth, said the official.


The drought has affected more than 320,000 people and one million animals. People in some rural areas even lack enough drinking water.


And many animals were reported to have died of thirst.


More than 150,000 hectares of farmland in the province were affected, with some suffering from a serious drought.


Rainfall in many cities in the eastern and western parts of the province was less than 1,000 millimeters over the past seven months, a year-on-year fall of at least 30 percent.


"This year, Guangdong is experiencing one of the four most serious droughts since 1961," the official said.


Drought-hit cities and counties have been urged to take concrete and effective measures to reduce their economic losses to the minimum.


In spite of the drought, daily water use reached the record high of nearly 4 million cubic meters in Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong Province, on Wednesday.


(China Daily August 23, 2004)

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