Financial Tribune- Under-fire environment chief, Massoumeh Ebtekar, has called for the formation of a fact-finding mission to look into the cause of the desiccation of Hoor al-Azim Wetland and the Department of Environment’s measures to revive the key lagoon.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of the 22nd National-Regional Conference of Iranian Society of Environmentalists in Tehran on Tuesday, Ebtekar said the formation of a fact-finding mission will help clear everything up, ISNA reported.
“It is imperative to know whether the negative news perpetrated by some with ulterior motives to create an anti-government atmosphere is true or false, which,” she said.
Heavy dust and sand storms in the past few weeks have wreaked havoc on the oil-rich Khuzestan Province in southwestern Iran, leading to power and water outages in numerous cities and reducing field of vision to dangerously short distances.
The province is frequently battered by intense dust storms, but this time experts say domestic hotspots were to blame for the phenomenon, not foreign ones.
Hoor al-Azim Wetland is said to be the largest source of dust storms in the province and one of the biggest in the country.
Environment officials say outdated oil drilling and exploration methods over the past years are to blame for the wetland’s desiccation. Since President Hassan Rouhani took office in 2013, the DOE has taken measures to revive the wetland by ensuring the lagoon’s water rights are upheld and dykes blocking water flow into it are routinely opened.
“We have managed to fill up 70% of Hoor al-Azim, which not only helped reduce its contribution to dust storms, but it has also become a tourist destination,” Ebtekar said.
DOE frequently published satellite photos of the wetland, which show the lagoon gradually filling up with water. However, some claim the wetland is far from restored.