Zahedan, Sistan-o-Baluchestan Prov, Dec 12, IRNA -- An Afghan source told IRNA here on Wednesday that Hilmand River's (Hirmand in Iran's side) water will start flowing into the Iranian territory within the next few days.
Deputy of Nimroze Province governor added that the Hirmand river that had been dried has started flowing again and its water has so far reached the southern parts of Afghanistan's Nimroze Province, and therefore, it is predictable that it will reach Iran within the next few days.
He said that the speed of the water current is low, the river is too lengthy, and its dry path absorbs a large part of the newly flowing water, so it is hard to tell the exact time when the water will reach Iran's side.
The Afghan official said that the present current of Hirmand has been released from the Kajaki Dam, and the governor of Kandahar has suggested the Afghan farmers of the region along the river's banks not to use the river's water, since it is Iran's share.
He said that Hirmand's volume of water on the Iran-Afghan border will probably be some 10 cubic meters per second.
Hirmand River in Iran's Sistan and Baluchestan Province, that is the extension of Afghanistan's Hilmand River was dry during the past few years, until following President Khatami's trip to Kabul when upon his request Kajaki Dam's gates on Iran's side were opened last month, and water reached Iran during the last week of October.
But after a short while the flow of water was halted again with prior notice.
During the two weeks that water was flowing towards Iran only 11 million cubic meters of water was stored by the region's drought-stricken residents in shallow wells dug by them for the purpose in Zabol region.
Iran's Foreign Ministry Spokesman had earlier on Wednesday in reply to a question on Iran's share of Hirmand River's water, stated that Minister of Foreign Affairs Kamal Kharrazi had brought up the matter during a meeting on the sidelines of the Bonn Conference with President Hamid Karzai.
He said that Karzai has assured Kharrazi that the halting of Hirmand water had been merely due to low precipitation, and that Iran can send water technicians to make sure about the matter. "President Karzai has also assured Dr. Kharrazi that he would personally see into the matter and try to solve the problem.
Also an Afghan official told IRNA on Wednesday that the international companies in charge of reconstructing the Hilmand region's roads that could boost the region's trade have not met their commitments, and that therefore the Hilmand region farmers have started planting puppy flowers based on traditional methods, using the Hilmand's water.
He who spoke on condition of anonymity added that most of the narcotics smuggled towards Iran are the Hilmand region's crop, whose soil is quite cultivable and appropriate for all type of agriculture.
Based on an accord signed between Iran and Afghanistan in 1972, Iran's share of Hirmand River's water is between 550 and 820 million cubic meters annually, based on the annual level of precipitation.
Regional Afghan authorities, too, told IRNA on Wednesday that the farmers in the southern regions of Kajaki Dam have already diverted the path of the Hilmand River towards their farms, and only a small portion of the released water is moving towards Iran now.
University Professor Pirouz Mojathedzadeh, too, had said last week that blocking Hirmand River water's flow had been a US provocation and that keeping in mind the miserable status of the drought-stricken residents of Iran's Sistan and Baluchestan region, it is a crime against humanity.
Afghan Minister for Housing and Urban Reconstruction, Youssef Pashtun, had said on November 16 that his government had approved the restoration in the flow of Hirmand river " only for 60 days" to Iran and was surprised by the sudden disruption after a recent short flow.
Water from Hirmand river which rises from Hindukush Mountain in Afghanistan, has developed into a row between the two countries. The Afghan government temporarily released the water recently, but its immediate disruption triggered protests from Iran.
"The flow of water from Hirmand river for 60 days into Iran is among approvals of the Afghan cabinet, but its sudden disruption is dubious to us," Pashtun had said in a meeting with Iranian officials in Kandahar.
He said the water may have been blocked by Afghan farmers who live on the banks of the Hirmand river which cuts through several miles of parched lands before reaching Iran.
Afghan Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah, too, said last month that the water was 'unblocked at the request of Iranian President Mohammad Khatami, for only a short period of time, to show the government's goodwill'.
Iran's Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi, in a phone conversation with Afghan President Hamid Karzai recently, stressed the need for Afghanistan to abide by its commitments to let water from Hirmand river flow into Iran.
Under a 1972 accord, Afghanistan is obliged to release at least 26 cubic meters (910 cubic feet) of water a second. Taliban violated the deal during the 1994-2001 Taliban rule in Afghanistan and blocked the water from flowing into Iran.
As a result, Iran's famous Hamoun lake dried up as did other regional pastures, leading to the death of flora and fauna and the perish of cattle and birds in the Sistan and Baluchestan province.
... Payvand News - 12/12/02 ... --