|Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao (C) looks at the cracks on the dried lakebed in Caisanghu Town, Yueyang City of central China's Hunan Province, June 2, 2011. Wen made an inspection tour in the drought-striken provinces of Jiangxi, Hunan and Hubei from June 2 to 4. (Xinhua/Li Tao)
WUHAN, June 5 (Xinhua) -- Premier Wen Jiabao urged local authorities to make great efforts to tackle drought-related problems in a recent tour in the country's parched central provinces.
The drought relief work must be pushed forward and a scientific approach taken, as its success is key to maintaining stable and rapid economic growth in the country, Wen told a seminar in Wuhan, capital city of central Hubei Province, following his inspection tour of Jiangxi, Hunan and Hubei provinces from June 2 to 4.
Wen's remarks came as the worst drought in 60 years continues to ravage the middle and lower parts of the Yangtze River basin, including Jiangsu, Anhui, Jiangxi, Hubei and Hunan provinces.
These areas, being important agricultural production bases, are of strategic significance for the country's economic and social development.
Wen said that the central government would give out drought-resisting subsidies to farmers in the drought-stricken areas.
Wen's three-day inspection tour covered areas around Poyang Lake in Jiangxi Province, Dongting Lake in Hunan Province and Danjiangkou Reservoir in Hubei Province.
The surface area of Poyang Lake has shrunk to only 632 square km, or 24 percent of the average size in recent years, after 110 days without rain in the region.
The lingering drought has caused economic losses of over 2 billion yuan (about 308 million U.S. dollars) in Jiangxi Province.
Hunan Province has also been hit severely, with the surface area of Dongting Lake reduced to 770 square km, only one fourth of that three years ago.
On Saturday morning, the water level of Danjiangkou Reservoir stood at 134.87 meters, 8 meters lower than the normal average.
Saving water and distributing it in a scientific way are of critical importance, said Wen.
Long-awaited rain fell on Saturday in many drought-hit areas and continued on Sunday.
China's meteorological authorities forecast Sunday morning more rain for the parched south over the next two days.
China's National Meteorological Center (NMC) has raised the rainstorm alert to yellow from blue. The NMC issued the blue alert at 6 a.m. Sunday -- the lightest in the country's 4-tier rainstorm alert system.
Further, the NMC forecasts heavy rain and storms for parts of China's provinces of Guizhou, Hunan, Anhui, Jiangxi, Zhejiang and Fujian.
On Saturday, heavy rain hit Guizhou, Hunan, Hubei, Jiangxi and Zhejiang provinces. From 5 a.m June 4 to 5 a.m. June 5, some regions in the provinces of Hunan, Jiangxi and Anhui received more than 100 mm of precipitation.