TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Construction of three dams around the drying Lake Oroumiyeh in northwest of Iran has been shelved in a bid to save one of the world’s largest saltwater lakes from disappearing, Iranian Energy Minster announced.
Speaking at a provincial meeting in Iran’s West Azarbaijan province on Saturday, Hamid Chitchian said “save Lake Oroumiyeh task force” has ordered a halt to construction of Nazlou, Simineh and Barandouz dams, noting that any further decision to resume the projects will be within the purview of that task force.
The minister also noted that he “feels deeply responsible” for the dire situation of Lake Oroumiyeh.
“Drying of Lake Oroumiyeh will jeopardize the lives of many people (living) around it,” said Chitchian.
The decision to stop building the three dams came after President Hassan Rouhani issued a decree in late June on the start of an environmental operation to save Lake Oroumiyeh, which has lost quite a large surface in recent years.
The president also assigned members of ‘save Lake Oroumiyeh task force’ the job of conducting supplementary studies to accelerate implementation of the plan to save the shrinking lake.
“The administration is prepared to cover whatever costs necessary to resuscitate the lake,” Rouhai said at the time.
As Lake Oroumiyeh is shrinking and deserts of salt expanding, Iranian officials are trying to find ways to avert an imminent disaster and to stop the salt lake from drying up.
One of the largest salt lakes in the world and classified as a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO, Lake Oroumiyeh has lost more than 60 percent of its surface over the last two decades due to drought and the damming of rivers feeding it.
The disappearance of the lake could leave behind billions of tons of salt which in turn displace millions of people and endanger the ecosystem of all surrounding areas, whose economy relies on agriculture and tourism.
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