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Guangdong Gives Rural Population Water Pledge
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Guangdong Province in south China has pledged "safe, clean water" for all people living in its rural areas by 2013.

"Our aim is that about 7.5 million people in the countryside will have access to safe, clean water during the 11th Five-Year Plan period. During the 12th Five-Year Plan period, the remaining 9 million will get the same," a report from Guangdong Water Resources Department, said.

The department has so far submitted to Beijing 144 projects on improving water quality in Guangdong's rural areas and total beneficiaries from these projects are expected to exceed 1.72 million.

"We are now working on the third batch of 84 projects and they will help solve water safety problems faced by 650,000 rural people," an officer with the department, said. He declined to give his name.

But he also admitted that the department still faces "huge pressures" as only about 340,000 rural people at present have access to safe, clean water.

"Our goal is 7.5 million during the 11th Five-Year Plan period, which means that we must solve the water problem for at least 2 million rural people per year in the next three years," he said.

Last month, Guangdong still had more than 16 million rural people drinking "unsafe water".

Statistics from the Guangdong Water Resources Department revealed that rural people drinking water containing fluorine, numbered 530,000, arsenic; 30,000; and bitter or salty water, 1.56 million; polluted water, 7.25 million; and water containing other hazards, 4.22 million.

"Government may consider slowing down some civil construction projects and put more funds into solving water safety problems in the countryside," Xu Yuanyuan a deputy to the National People's Congress, said, when attending a meeting held by the Guangdong water resources department.

"Some departments and local governments should reduce their 'image projects' and build less office buildings. Water safety problems must be addressed as soon as possible," another deputy to the National People's Congress, Deng Mingyi, said.

"Problems such as water containing fluorine or arsenic that exceeds the safety standard must be solved as quickly as possible," he said.

(China Daily July 19, 2007)

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