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Dispute Over Water Transfer
Economy, Domestic Economy

Dispute Over Water Transfer

The deputy minister of energy announced that the plan to transfer water from Vanak town in Semirom district of Isfahan Province to Dasht-e-Rafsanjan, Kerman Province, which was approved 18 years ago, will now be implemented.

Raheem Meidani said in a meeting with officials and farmers of Semirom district that the plan was approved during former president Ali-Akbar Rafsanjani’s tenure, ISNA reported.

“As Dasht-e-Rafsanjan is on the verge of drought, an agreement was signed during a recent trip by members of the Cabinet between officials from Chaharmahal and Bakhtiari and Kerman provinces to transfer water,” he said.

As announced by the government, water transfer between provinces is permitted only for drinking purposes.

Calling water a national wealth, Meidani said: “Water does not belong to any particular province. The agreement for water transfer to Dasht-e-Rafsanjan has been approved and we are now in the process of allocating funds for its implementation.”

 Mayor Objections

Meidani’s comment came after the mayor of Vanak criticized the water transfer move as illegal, saying: “We shall not permit it and are even ready to sacrifice our lives for this cause.”

Ali Amiri said there are two rivers flowing through Vanak town but the residents are not allowed to use “even one drop of the water, whereas more than 3 hectares of farm land and gardens have dried up.”

He noted that many of Semirom areas face serious water shortage and water supply schemes must be planned for them as well.

Meidani’s statements were also strongly criticized by Ali Afshari, former lawmaker from Semirom. “All this, while the deputy minister of energy did not even respond to the queries of farmers and reporters and left immediately along with an assistant to the governor of Isfahan.”

 Afshari who is currently the development consultant to the Isfahan governor, maintained that the “Vanak water transfer contract is comparable to the 1828 Treaty of Turkmenchay.”

Stating that the project for transferring Vanak-Solgan water to Rafsanjan was proposed as per the request by Omran Rafsanjan Company in the year 2002, Afshari said, unlike what the deputy minister of energy suggests, available documents prove that the contract was licensed by the current government.

 Documents Show Otherwise

Afshari argued that despite Meidani’s remark that the water transfer was only for drinking purposes, available documents show that in addition to allotting water to Lordegan, more than 7 million cubic meters of water was allotted to the industrial sector in Chaharmahal and Bakhtiari and 84 million cubic meters to the farming sector in Dasht-e-Khanemirza.

As per the contract, Semirom’s water will be transferred to Rafsanjan and the water tax will be collected by Chaharmahal and Bakhtiari; all this while Semirom farmers must watch their gardens go dry.

Pointing out that many regions of Semirom district such as Vardasht, Shahr-e-Hana, Padena and Vanak region are at the risk of drought, he said, “Constructing a tunnel to transfer water out of Vanak will cause streams and shallow water reservoirs of the district to dry up.”

Semirom officials and farmers voicing strong opposition to the water transfer made a plea to provincial officials to take notice.

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