China's Environmental Protection Minister said on Wednesday that the country has injected nearly 24 billion yuan (about 3.5 billion U.S. dollars) to help more than 109million rural residents have safe drinking water since 2006.
Zhou Shengxian, the Minister, said in a report delivered at a plenary session of the National People's Congress Standing Committee, that the country has at the same time intensified its efforts to curb water pollution.
More than 1.6 million law enforcement officials had been sent to investigate more than 700,000 enterprises nationwide, of which more than 15,000 were punished for polluting the environment.
Zhou's report is open for debate in the ongoing meeting that started on Monday.
Together with the report on environmental protection, another three cabinet reports, respectively on the implementation of the 11th Five-Year Plan (2006-2010) on national economy and social development, commodity prices and consequences of the international financial crisis on the Chinese economy were also tabled for discussion in the top legislature.
China has in recent years paid increasing attention to its ecological challenges and environmental problems as it seeks to balance its high economic growth rate with a rational use of natural resources and tries to reduce the country's pollution.