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 China channels 1-bln-yuan green fund to rural areas 

BEIJING, July 29 (Xinhua) -- Money from a 1 billion yuan (146 million U.S. dollars) fund is being distributed to 1,370 villages in China to remedy environmental problems and reward good practices, said the Ministry of Environment Protection Wednesday.

The ministry expected the fund to benefit 9 million villagers, said Wang Zhenyu, an official with the ministry's information office.

About 920 million yuan of the fund will be spent reducing pollution in 1,200 villages, 70 percent of which are located in heavily-polluted river valleys and in less developed regions, Wang said.

For example, the ministry will provide money for villages near the Dahuofang Reservoir in northeastern Liaoning Province to build waste disposal and sewage treatment facilities.

Another program in Suzhou, eastern Anhui Province, will provide safe drinking water for 90,000 residents living along the polluted Kuisui river. The money will be used for building sewage treatment, waste disposal and toilet facilities.

Another 80 million yuan will be granted to about 170 villages which have already made outstanding contributions in reducing pollution and protecting the environment.

Because of the programs, the ministry expected to attract another 1.5 billion yuan in investment from local governments and other parties, Wang said.

In an annual evaluation report for 2008 issued in June, the ministry warned of worsening environment problems in rural areas.

"The countryside is suffering from more and more industrial and general pollution and the threat from polluted drinking water is increasing," the report said.
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