CHENGDU: Less than half of the 2,125 reservoirs damaged in the Sichuan earthquake will be repaired this year, an official said yesterday.
Leng Gang, director of the Sichuan water resources department, said the provincial government will spend 37.7 billion yuan ($5.5 billion) to fix 1,000 reservoirs and 378 km of embankments.
The projects will solve drinking water problems for 5 million people, he said.
The reservoir reconstruction plan is scheduled for completion by the end of next year, he said. The province lacked sufficient water for drinking and irrigation even before the quake, he said. The local government plans to increase reservoir storage capacity by 4.5 billion cu m by 2012, from the 10.5 billion cu m now, Leng said.
"After the expansion, we will be able to irrigate an additional 660,000 hectares of land," he said.
Sichuan has had less than half the amount of rain it normally gets in winter, forecasters have said.
The south of the province even experienced a heat wave on Monday, when the mercury rose to almost 37 C, they said.
Severe drought has already hit Henan, Shanxi, Shaanxi, Gansu, Hubei, Hunan, Sichuan, Yunnan and Qinghai provinces.
About 10.7 million hectares of cropland have been affected, and more than 4 million people and 2 million head of livestock are facing drinking water shortages, the Office of State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters has said.
More than 153,000 hectares of wheat seedlings in Henan, Anhui and Shandong provinces have perished, it said.
The central government declared its highest level of emergency earlier this month in response to the drought which began in November.
President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao have ordered an all-out effort to save the country's summer harvest.
(China Daily 02/20/2009 page5)