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Law Amended to Protect Shrinking Water Resources

Xinhua, 24 December 2001

BEIJING, December 24 (Xinhua) -- An amended draft of China's water law was put forward Monday, which stresses the need to streamline the administration over the country's shrinking water resources.

The amended draft was raised for discussion Monday at the 25th session of the Standing Committee of the 9th National People's Congress, China's top legislature.

Under the present law, the water resources of a river are usually administered by several local governments with jurisdiction over the river area. This has resulted in an imbalance in water usage along different reaches of a river, said Wang Shucheng, minister of Water Resources, while explaining the amendment to lawmakers.

The Yellow River, Heihe and Tarim rivers, three major rivers in north and northwest China, have suffered dry periods for years due to this problem, Wang added.

The amended draft said that water resources of the whole country are to be administered by a State Council department, which will balance the use of water of a major river or lake between different cities and regions.

Each Chinese now has access to 2,200 cubic meters of water on average, or one fourth of the world's average per capita. And among 668 Chinese cities, more than 400 face water shortages. Half of the total length of the rivers and 90 percent of the urban water areas in the country are polluted.

Rigid punishments are also added to the amended draft, as this section of the present version remains relatively abstract and thus has lead to problems during enforcement, he said.