Al Monitor | : Iran has long been faced with a wide range of environmental challenges. These include everything from drought leading to soil erosion and sandstorms to water shortages and air pollution in major cities. However, it has only been in recent years that officials and experts alike have publicly called for genuine measures to slow down the damage to the environment.
This spring, Reza Ardakanian, Iran’s energy minister, announced that the current Iranian year (which began March 21) would be the driest in the past 50 years. The reduction of rainfall in the country has been so significant that officials have repeatedly spoken of the possibility of water shortages in some parts of the country during the summer if consumption is not managed properly. Indeed, despite the recent rainfalls across Iran, official figures indicate that the rainfall in the current water-year is 41% lower than the previous Iranian year, and 59% lower than the average over the past 49 years.
With some describing the water shortage as Iran’s crisis of the century, the head of Iran’s Department of Environment, Isa Kalantari, on April 10 called for a ban on the issuance of operating licenses to large and water-consuming industries in dry and semi-dry regions, and also a prompt revision of current regulations in this regard.
Many environmental experts and officials have been calling for years for the relocation of water-consuming industries from dry regions to coastal areas. “Territorial planning indicates that water- and energy-consuming and export-oriented industries must be created along the coasts,” Seyed Hamid Pourmohammadi, the economic deputy of the Budget and Planning Organization of Iran, was quoted as saying by local media in March.