About 34.09 million people in China's rural areas gained access to drinkable water over the past five years, according to Minister of Water Resources Wang Shucheng.
He said at an on-going nationwide water conservancy work meeting in Changsha that the central government allocated 6.9 billion yuan to give more people and livestock clean, drinkable tap water.
He also claimed the country's water conservancy department had fulfilled at the end of 2002 its tasks under the "Eight-Seven Poverty Relief Program," a key national poverty relief program launched in 1994, which was expected to help about 80 million people out of abject poverty over seven years.
Wang said that over the past five years, the central government also earmarked about 11.2 billion yuan to consolidate about 770 out-of-date dams which were mostly completed in the 1950s and 1960s and mainly near populous areas or industrial bases.
(Xinhua News Agency January 7, 2003)