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China to fulfill water safety vow ahead of agenda
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China has set its own pace on fulfilling the goal of cutting down the population with low access to safe drinking water by half in 2009, six years ahead of its pledged deadline to the UN sponsored Millennium Development Goals.

By the year 2000, China had 379 million rural population with low access to clean drinking water. The number was chopped down to 312 million by the end of 2005, said a senior water resources official at the on-going China-Spain Water Forum in Dongying City, east China's Shandong Province, on Monday.

Thanks to local water conservancy projects, nearly 110,000 villagers in Kenli County, Shandong Province, now have access to drinking water which conforms to national water safety standards.

"According to China's 2006-2010 development plan, 160 million people would be given access to safe drinking water. The work is progressing on annual schedule of 32 million people," said Li Daixin, director of the Department of Irrigation, Drainage and Rural Water Supply under the Ministry of Water Resources.

That is to say 195 million people could bid farewell to drinking water shortage or contamination by 2009, ahead of China's pledged deadline of 2015 in the UN-sponsored development program, the official claimed at the forum.

In his keynote speech to the forum, Li said that as to the year 2000, 50 million rural people had to trek far to reach drinking water sources, and 300 million people drank water with quality below the national standard.

In China's endeavor to achieve a moderately prosperous society by 2020, China strives to ensure safe drinking water supply to all of its rural population by that time, said Li.

(Xinhua News Agency October 16, 2007)

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