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Energy Ministry Denies Pressure From Water Lobbies

Critics say trans-basin water transfer schemes are too costly and not environmentally friendly.Critics say trans-basin water transfer schemes are too costly and not environmentally friendly.

The Energy Ministry has declared that water schemes are only aimed at supplying drinking water and no lobby can force the ministry to green-light industrial uses.

Speaking to ILNA, Deputy Energy Minister Rahim Meydani expressed confidence that the ministry's policies regarding inter-basin water transfer projects cannot be influenced by outside groups.

"Implementing the government's policies is imperative and we promise the people of Iran that lobbies will not be able to put us under pressure to violate our own frameworks," he said. 

Meydani pointed to recent reports that suggested water intended for household use in Khuzestan was being siphoned off by others for industrial purposes.

"Provincial officials were ordered to look into the matter immediately," he said.

The official added that the course of action is closely monitored and cannot be deviated. Following rumors about the violations in trans-basin diversion schemes in Khuzestan, the provincial authorities and the Management and Planning Organization were ordered to check whether the water is supplied for household use or not. 

  Short-Term Solution

Inter-basin transfer or trans-basin diversion refers to manmade conveyance schemes that move water from one river basin to another where water is less available, usually for development purposes.

According to Meydani, trans-basin water schemes aim to ensure the sustained supply of potable water until the groundwater withdrawal is reduced enough to match the rate of recharge of aquifers (the rate at which groundwater resources are replenished).

"That'll take around 25 years. We cannot abandon people for that long; they need drinking water," he said, adding that rural residents will otherwise leave their homes and move to large cities. However, that is already happening in provinces such as Khuzestan, South Khorasan and Isfahan. Environment officials and experts are opposed to the inter-basin transfer of water, arguing that these project only offer temporary solutions that are not worth their environmental and financial costs.

Water experts have repeatedly called for policy reforms and advanced farming practices to tackle Iran’s huge water shortage, suggesting that the root cause of the problem is mismanagement and waste, and not the shortage of the precious resource.

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