Chinese Premier Calls for More Efforts to Fight Against Drought

Premier Wen Jiabao has urged local authorities to make greater efforts to solve problems related to drought during his recent visit to the provinces of central China.

“The work against drought should continue and a scientific approach should be adopted, as its success is crucial to maintaining stable economic growth and fast,” said Wen Jiabao at a seminar in Wuhan, capital of the central province of Hubei, following his inspection tour in the provinces of Jiangxi, Hunan and Hubei provinces between April 2 and June 4, while the worst drought in 60 years continues to ravage the middle and lower Yangtze River, including the provinces of Jiangsu, Anhui, Jiangxi, Hubei and Hunan.

As important agricultural production bases, these regions have a strategic significance for economic and social development.

Wen Jiabao said the central government will allocate subsidies to farmers in areas affected by drought.

During his inspection visit of three days, the Prime Minister visited in areas near Poyang Lake in Jiangxi Province, Dongting Lake in Hunan province and Danjiangkou Reservoir in Hubei Province.

Poyan lake area is reduced to only 632 km2, or 24% of its average size in recent years, after 110 days without rain in the region.

The persistent drought has caused economic losses estimated at over 2 billion yuan (nearly $ 308 million) in Jiangxi Province.

Hunan Province was also hit hard, the area of Dongting Lake was reduced to 770 km2, which represents one quarter of its size three years ago.

Saturday morning, the water level of the reservoir reached 134.87 meters in Danjiangkou, eight feet below its average level.