Conservancy projects to draw more investment

Updated: 2011-10-13 07:59

By Jin Zhu and Liang Chao(China Daily)

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Droughts and floods highlight serious problems

BEIJING - China will continue to increase its investment in water conservancy infrastructure and accelerate the building of projects to counter drought and flood, a senior water resources official said on Wednesday.

By the end of September, China had invested nearly 260 billion yuan ($41 billion) in 2011 in building water conservancy infrastructure, with the central government's investment reaching 114 billion yuan, Jiao Yong, deputy minister of water resources, told a news conference.

The investment has been primarily used to supply clean and safe drinking water to 63.5 million rural residents, to reinforce 6,595 dangerous reservoirs, to harness 800 rivers and to build early warning systems for flooding in 1,100 counties, he said.

Partly due to global climate change, the country has experienced prolonged and severe droughts and floods, both in northern and southern areas this year.

"Floods and droughts have exposed weaknesses in the country's current water conservation, especially in Southwest China, which has been hit by severe droughts this year," Jiao said.

Since July, about 14.05 million people in Sichuan, Guizhou and Yunnan provinces, as well as the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region and Chongqing municipality have faced difficulties in accessing drinking water because of drought, according to the ministry's statistics.

"The government will continue efforts to further develop the country's water conservancy, such as increasing investment and speeding up construction," the deputy minister said.

A total of 4 trillion yuan will be invested in water conservation projects in the next 10 years, with China aiming to double its average annual spending of 200 billion yuan in 2010, according to this year's No 1 Central Document issued by the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and the State Council.

"From 2011 to 2015, the total investment in such projects will reach 1.8 trillion yuan and give priority to improving irrigation infrastructure for grain security and projects to deal with droughts and floods," Zhou Xuewen, head of the ministry's planning department, said at the news conference.

To ensure funding for water conservancy projects, up to 10 percent of local land transaction profits will go to farmland irrigation projects, the document revealed.

"At present, more than 60 percent of the country's total land transfer profits come from East China. By contrast, in the country's central and western regions, where local farmland irrigation needs urgent improvements, their land transfer profits are poor," Jiao said.

In deciding how to allocate funding, the central government needs to consider how it can meet different needs across the country, he said.

Li Maosong, a researcher on disaster reduction at the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, said the development of water conservancy is a long-term goal.

"However, land transfer profits cannot support such projects all the time, since the country's land resources are quite limited. The government has to develop more effective funding support," he said.

China Daily

(China Daily 10/13/2011 page4)