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Iranian Lawmakers Propose Plan to Save Lake Oroumiyeh

Source: Radio Zamaneh

Thirty Iranian MPs have prepared a plan to revive shrinking Lake Oroumieyh in northwestern Iran in the next three years.

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).

Nader Ghazipour, one of the signatories to the proposal, told the Khaneh Mellat website: "According to this plan, the administration is charged with finding the best solutions, up to three years from when the bill is approved, to save and revive Lake Oroumiyeh and return it to its previous condition."

He said the bill will be presented in Parliament this coming Sunday and expressed hope that it will be approved.

An earlier plan to save the lake was presented to Parliament in July but it was voted down. Ghazipour said, however, that MPs were only voting against the "financial resources" proposed for that plan; he said: "The MPs did not have anything against principle of the proposal."

After Parliament rejected that first plan, large demonstrations were held in Tabriz and Oroumiyeh, and many protesters were arrested.

The MP representing Oroumiyeh went on to say: "The problem with this lake is not the fault of the government, and 90 percent of it is due to declining precipitation levels. However, the government could have remedied it by diverting water from other regions."

Alireza Mahjoub, another signatory to the plan, says the new proposal aims to "keep the situation at Lake Oroumiyeh from becoming more critical."

He added that the plan allows the government to transfer water to Lake Oroumiyeh from "the many water resources available in the country."

Last week, the head of Iran's Organization for the Protection of the Environment announced the approval of a $900-million budget to remedy the drying of Lake Oroumiyeh.

Iran's largest lake has long been faced with falling water levels, and large sections of it have already dried out.

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