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With an area of about 50,700 square kilometers, the interconnected wetlands were considered the largest freshwater lake across the Iranian Plateau.
With an area of about 50,700 square kilometers, the interconnected wetlands were considered the largest freshwater lake across the Iranian Plateau.

DOE Not Solely Responsible for Hamouns

Dam constructions and excessive irrigation on both sides of the Iran-Afghanistan border have rendered the once thriving wetlands dry

DOE Not Solely Responsible for Hamouns

An environmental official has urged the parliament, particularly a lawmaker from Sistan-Baluchestan Province, not to single out the Department of Environment as the only state body responsible for the revival of transboundary Hamoun Wetlands on the Iran-Afghanistan border.
Arezou Shafizadeh, the head of wetland ecosystem group at DOE, said legislators can play an integral role in the restoration of the imperiled wetlands in southeastern Iran “by demanding answers from all responsible entities, not just the DOE”, ISNA reported.
Habibollah Dehmardeh, a lawmaker from Sistan-Baluchestan Province, criticized DOE recently for its “lackluster performance in reviving the wetlands” and called for a comprehensive plan to help save the Hamouns.
“A comprehensive plan was approved last week (by the Sistan Governorate), which details the roles and responsibilities of all relevant organizations, including the DOE,” Shafizadeh said in response to Dehmardeh.
“The plan also outlines measures to be taken in cooperation with Afghanistan.”
The Hamouns are a series of shallow marsh lakes in southwest Afghanistan and southeast Iran, constituting three lakes: Hamoun-e Helmand, which is entirely in Iran; Hamoun-e Sabari on the border; and Hamoun-e Puzak, which is almost entirely inside Afghanistan.
The three lakes are linked and fed by Afghanistan’s Helmand River.
The wetlands are predominantly fed by Afghan rivers, although the amount of inflow Iran is legally obliged to allow into the wetlands is not sufficient to help restore the imperiled lagoons.

  Water Rights Lost
Iran must ensure 60 million cubic meters of water reach the wetlands every year, which is also “so small it can barely be considered water rights”, according to Mohsen Soleimani Rouzbehani, director of the Iranian Wetlands Conservation Project.
The Energy Ministry supplies the water from underground tables and wells.
Rouzbehani said the wetlands have become more vulnerable since Afghanistan has failed to uphold the Hamouns’ water rights.
Hamouns are one of the major domestic sources of dust and sandstorms in southeastern Iran, battering cities such as Zahedan and Zabol. The latter was ranked by the World Health Organization as the most polluted city in the world (based on PM2.5 concentration) in 2016.
The construction of dams and canals in Afghanistan has led to chanelling water away from agriculture in the Afghan provinces of Kandahar, Helmand and Nimrooz, causing water levels in the lakes to plummet.
To make matters worse, four reservoirs were built within Iran, diverting more water and speeding up the desiccation of the wetlands.
During a trip to Iran in 2015, President Ashraf Ghani of Afghanistan and Iran’s environmental chief, Massoumeh Ebtekar, discussed the abysmal state of the Hamouns and vowed to increase efforts to revive the wetlands, although Iranian officials say Afghanistan is not doing its part.
“We hope to be able to discuss the matter with Afghan officials soon,” Shafizadeh said.
With an area of about 50,700 square kilometers, the interconnected wetlands were considered the largest freshwater lake across the Iranian Plateau.
To attract global attention to the dire state of the wetlands and secure funds from international organizations, Iran is planning to nominate the Hamouns to UNESCO’s Man and Biosphere Program.

 

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