» 10/24/2009, 00.00
Continued drought: millions of people and animals without water in the central and southern China
More than 600 thousand hectares of crops at risk. The mouth of the Pearl River flooded by sea water that destroys crops. Lack of rain due to pollution, urban development and deforestation. The drought in the valley due to Three Gorges Dam.
Beijing (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The plight of drought in central and southern China is worsening, leaving millions of people and animals without water to drink, the fields without irrigation. The government lays the blame on climate change, but problems also arise from the dams built by man, especially the Three Gorges.
According to the China Meteorological Bureau, the most affected regions are Guangdong, Jiangxi, Anhui, Shandong for which there is little or no rain forecast over the next 10 days. Xinhua reports that at least 1.34 million people and over 320 thousand livestock are suffering from lack of water and more than 600 thousand hectares of crops are at risk. In Guangdong alone, the rainfall has decreased by 20% putting at risk the irrigation of fields. Over the last 10 days the victims of drought have increased from 54 thousand to 240 thousand.
Added to these are at least 3 million people affected by drought in Hunan, where the rains have decreased by 80%. Similar problems are recorded in Inner Mongolia, in Helongjiang, Liaoning, Shanxi. The water levels of rivers and lakes have reduced so much that local fishing boats often run aground in the sand and remain there for months. In the area of Zhuhai, near the mouth of the Pearl River, salt water of the sea is invading the bed of the river, destroying the crops.
The government is laying the blame for scarce rainfall on severe climate change. But it is also the result of pollution caused by industrial development and urban planning, as well as deforestation of entire areas that has fostered desertification. The population also accuses all the dams and hydroelectric projects implemented in recent years. All provinces downstream of the Three Gorges Dam, for example, have been suffering the most severe drought in several years. They accuse the authorities of wanting to fill up the reservoir of the dam, without worrying about the needs of those living downstream in the valley.
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Rainfall has been low for months as hot weather prevails. Seven provinces and Shanghai are experiencing water shortages. Rice and grain production are at risk. The Three Gorges Dam set to release 5 billion cubic metres. Since the dam was built, drought has become more frequent and long lasting. Experts believe the two to be correlated.
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