Revival of Lake Urmia will take 10 to 15 years: energy minister

TEHRAN – Energy Minister Hamid Chitchian said on Wednesday that a revival of the Lake Urmia will take 10 to 15 years and cautioned that any politically motivated promise that the lake will be restored in a short time will be “treason against the Lake Urmia and the people.”

“We need 10 to 15-year time to be able to return the Lake Urmia to its previous situation and any slogan and propagandistic or political promise which is devoid of reality is treason against the Lake Urmia and the people,” Chitchian told a meeting of MPs from East Azerbaijan Province.

Chitchian said his ministry will use all its efforts to save the lake. However, he warned that if the water for agricultural use is not managed properly, the lake “will never be revived.”

The ministry will consider different options including transferring water from rivers such as Aras to the lake and seeking the advice of Iranian and foreign experts including the Chinese and French for revitalizing the dying lake, the minister noted.

“If we cannot manage the use of water in agriculture the Lake Urmia will never be revived.”

The minister blamed an overuse of waters flowing into the lake in recent years as the most important reason for the current situation, saying previously only 150,000 hectares of land around the lake were under cultivation but now it has increased to 480,000 hectares.

The addition of 330,000 hectares of land to previous lands under cultivation need 3.1 billion cubic meters of water and this portion of water can revive the lake.

He also faulted global warming, lesser rainfall, and an increase in water consumption in villages and cities as another reason for the lake being dried up.

However, transfer of water to the lake is an environmentally important issue and efforts to save the lake should not cause a more devastating environmental damage, he said.

He said the Agriculture Ministry is duty-bound to train farmers to change their harvest pattern in order to lessen their use of water so that the extra water is flowed into the lake.

The minister also said he had requested President Hassan Rouhani to appoint a special director to follow the issue related to restoring the lake.

The save of the lake from this “dangerous situation” entails a national will, support of the people, parliament representatives, and the government, the minister said at the end.

Lake Urmia is a salt lake in northwest of Iran. It is located in the provinces of East Azarbaijan and West Azarbaijan in northwestern Iran.

According to the latest estimates, about 80 percent of the lake has dried up. It is the largest lake inside Iran, and the second biggest salt lake of the world.

By Tehran Times


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