China steps up drought relief efforts in places hardest hit by heatwaves

China has earmarked some 200 million yuan (S$41 million) of disaster relief funds to support drought relief work. PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIJING (XINHUA, REUTERS) – China has taken a series of drought relief measures in places hardest hit by back-to-back heatwaves.

Emergency response officials have dispatched water tanks all across the sprawling municipality of Chongqing and released more water for irrigation in Hubei province. 

Some small and medium-sized rivers are so dry in Chongqing that they have stopped flowing.

The municipal flood control and drought relief headquarters on Monday (Aug 15) activated an orange alert for drought and a level-III emergency response, urging local authorities to take measures to fight the drought and ensure water supply for everyone.

The Ministries of Finance and Water Resources have already earmarked some 200 million yuan (S$41 million) as disaster relief funds to support drought relief efforts in eight provincial-level regions, including Hebei, Shanxi and Inner Mongolia.

Chinese lithium hub Sichuan province, meanwhile, is rationing electricity supply to factories until Saturday (Aug 20), as a heatwave sends power demands soaring and dries up reservoirs.

Temperatures in the province – home to nearly 84 million people – have hovered above 40 to 42 deg C since last week, according to data from China’s Meteorological Administration, increasing the demand for air conditioning.

The region relies on dams to generate 80 per cent of its electricity, but rivers in the area have dried up this summer, Beijing’s Water Resources Ministry said. 

Sichuan produces half of China’s lithium, used in batteries for electric vehicles, and its hydropower projects provide electricity to industrial hubs along the country’s east coast.

But the local government has decided to prioritise residential power supply, ordering industrial users in 19 out of 21 cities in the province to suspend production until Saturday, according to a notice issued Sunday (Aug 14).

Several companies, including aluminium producer Henan Zhongfu Industrial and fertiliser producers Sichuan Meifeng Chemical Industry, said in stock exchange statements they were suspending production.

A plant operated by Taiwanese giant and Apple supplier Foxconn in the province has also suspended production, Taipei’s Central News Agency reported.

Toyota Motor also suspended operations at its plant in Chengdu city, in Sichuan, till Saturday.

A summer of extreme weather in China has seen multiple major cities record their hottest days ever.

China’s national observatory reissued a red alert for high temperatures on Monday, state media reported, as the mercury soared past 40 deg C across swathes of the country.

Provinces including Zhejiang, Jiangsu and Anhui that rely on power from western China have also issued electricity curbs for industrial users to ensure homes had enough power, according to local media reports.

Scientists say extreme weather across the world has become more frequent due to climate change, and will likely grow more intense as global temperatures rise.


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