Lake Ur­mia full restora­tion de­ferred pend­ing bud­get al­lo­ca­tion

Tehran Times - - SOCIETY -

TEHRAN — Lim­ited bud­get could put back Lake Ur­mia, a wet­land lo­cated in north­west Iran, restora­tion projects, Ma­soud Ta­jr­ishi deputy en­vi­ron­ment chief and an of­fi­cial with the lake restora­tion pro­gram has said.

The lake, shared be­tween West Azarbai­jan and East Azarbai­jan prov­inces, used to be the largest salt-wa­ter lake in the Mid­dle East. It was a home to many mi­gra­tory and in­dige­nous an­i­mals in­clud­ing flamin­gos, pel­i­cans, egrets and ducks and at­tracted hun­dreds of tourist ev­ery year who had taken a trip to take ad­van­tage of the ther­a­peu­tic prop­er­ties of the lake.

How­ever, the lake started to shrink in

1990s. The dras­tic de­crease of the lake wa­ter level over the past 20 years has se­ri­ously af­fected the lake’s wildlife and hu­man ecol­ogy.

The vol­ume of wa­ter which mea­sured at 30 bil­lion cu­bic me­ters dra­mat­i­cally de­creased to half a bil­lion cu­bic me­ters in 2013 and again rose to 2.5 bil­lion cu­bic me­ters in

2017 and ac­cord­ingly lake sur­face area of

5,000 square kilo­me­ters in 1997 shrunk to one tenth of that to 500 square kilo­me­ters in 2013.

As per the data pub­lished on Iran En­vi­ron­ment and Wildlife Watch web­site on April

8, the lake is stretch­ing over some 2,200 square kilo­me­ters and the vol­ume of wa­ter is mea­sured at some 2 bil­lion cu­bic me­ters.

“Thank­fully we have suc­ceeded in sta­bi­liz­ing the lake con­di­tions, but we haven’t re­ceived the bud­get to fully re­store the lake,” Ta­jr­ishi re­gret­ted.

In or­der to re­store the lake some 8 tril­lion ri­als bud­get (nearly $190 mil­lion) was ap­proved in the year 1395 (March 2016March 2017) only half of which was ac­tu­ally re­ceived, he said, adding that, last year (March 2017-March 2018) no bud­get was al­lo­cated to the lake restora­tion projects.

In gen­eral the gov­ern­ment has so far al­lot­ted some 20 tril­lion ri­als (nearly $475 mil­lion) since the es­tab­lish­ment of the Lake Ur­mia Restora­tion Pro­gram in Au­gust 2013, ISNA quoted him as say­ing on Fri­day.

Out of 13 projects of wa­ter treat­ment and wa­ter trans­fer to the lake only two are be­ing im­ple­mented, he con­cluded.

In or­der to main­tain the lake eco­log­i­cal bal­ance the lake sur­face area should in­crease to twice its cur­rent size to al­most

4,300 square kilo­me­ters and the vol­ume of wa­ter should be at 14.5 bil­lion cu­bic me­ters.

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