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Safer water promised for rural people
Updated: 2005-12-21 08:58

China will double efforts in providing 100 million rural residents with safe potable water during the country's 11th Five-Year Program period (2006-2010), according to sources from the Ministry of Water Resources Monday.

In 2006, the Ministry of Water Resources will give priority to treating polluted water and fluoride or arsenic in it, said water resources minister Wang Shucheng at a convention attended by top provincial water officials on Monday.

Meeting water shortages in some drought-hit areas is also on top of their agenda, according to the minister.

By the end of next year, 20 million rural residents will be able to drink clean water under the scheme.

During the period from 2001 to 2004, China spent a total of 22 billion yuan (2.7 billion US dollars) for rural water supply projects in barren western areas.

By the end of 2004, China had relieved 56 million people out of water shortage and delivered potable water to 11 million people.

Despite the great efforts in past years, 300 million rural people still have unsafe water supplies. Excessive fluoride in the water affects 63 million people in northern, northwestern and northeastern China.

In recent years, some water-related illnesses have been on a noted rise.

"The harmful water can cause osteoporosis, hunchback and even paralysis," said Wang. "The diseases caused by drinking substandard water outweigh the losses triggered by floods."

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