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Iran: Political row over drying of Lake Oroumiyeh


Source: Radio Zamaneh

Iranian MPs representing Oroumiyeh have called on all the people of Iran to support them in reversing the falling water level in Lake Oroumiyeh.

Lake Urmia (Orumieh) is a salt lake in northwestern Iran near Turkey. The lake is between the provinces of East Azarbaijan and West Azarbaijan, west of the southern portion of the similarly shaped Caspian Sea. It is the largest lake inside Iran, and the third salt water lake on earth, with a surface area of approximately 5,200 km square (2,000 mile square).

MP Nader Ghazipour told ILNA that the lake belongs to all of the people of Iran, and everyone must collaborate in saving this natural heritage.

He added that redirecting water from the Aras River and Piranshahr is the only way to rescue the lake, maintaining: “The plan is being examined at the relevant ministries and the agricultural commission, and once this water has been supplied to the lake, there will be no need for dammed waters to be released.”

Ghazipour added that MPs will be judged on how they vote on this issue, and any resistance to the plan will erode their popular support in the coming parliamentary elections.

Meanwhile, opposition to the plan has come from several quarters. Eghtesad-e Pouya (Dynamic Economy) daily attacked the proposal in an editorial. It blamed the problem on lawmakers and the people who had repeatedly asked for the redirection of the waters that feed Lake Oroumiyeh in order to satisfy Azerbaijan’s agricultural and residential needs.

“These very people repeatedly pressured various administrations to build the crossing road on Lake Oroumiyeh so they can travel a bit faster from Oroumiyeh to Tabriz,” the editorial states. “Weren’t these MPs the very ones that wanted the government to remedy the lack of water and the drying out of orchards in Maragheh and other cities of the province? Wasn’t it the people living near Lake Oroumiyeh that kept pushing for more water to be delivered to them no matter where it came from?”

The editorial acknowledges the disastrous consequences should Lake Oroumiyeh dry out completely. “But the solution is not to dry out the Aras River and to destroy other fertile regions. The solution is to reduce our usage and save water and allow the Minister of Power to release dammed waters that should rightfully flow into the lake.”

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