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Henan Farmers' Thirst for Clean Water Quenched

Final checks will be conducted on 405 wells in Henan's rural areas today, marking the end of a 60-year long wait by some 800,000 rural residents for clean drinking water.

The Henan provincial government funded safe drinking water projects in 545 villages with 92.1 million yuan (US$ 11.1 million) earmarked for the first half of 2005.

As at June 28, 405 wells had been dug. Final provincial checks will be conducted today.

But some more fortunate villagers in Dongzhaozhuang Village in Jun County have been savoring the joys of clean drinking water on tap since June 20.

The groundwater that villagers have had to rely on for at least three generations is heavily polluted. One villager remarked that they have been wishing and hoping for clean water for the last 60 years. They want nothing more than to be able to welcome a friend or relative with a glass of clean water.

In April, provincial and local governments invested more than 300,000 yuan (about US$36,247) in a 140-meter-deep-well for the village.

Much of Henan's watercourses are polluted. The provincial authorities have invested 240 million yuan (US$29 million) in recent years to develop clean water supplies to 800 villages in the Huaihe and Haihe river basins with a total population of approximately 1.2 million.

According to the Ministry of Water Resources, one-third of China's rural population still does not have access to clean drinking water.

( by Li Shen July 7, 2005)

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