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Khuzestan is frequently hit by intense dust storms that cripple the province.
Khuzestan is frequently hit by intense dust storms that cripple the province.

76,000 Tons of Dust, Sand Descend on Ahvaz

The government has earmarked $100 million to combat dust storms in the next Iranian year
About 75% of dust storm emissions worldwide come from natural (as opposed to manmade) sources

76,000 Tons of Dust, Sand Descend on Ahvaz

Intense sand and dust storms lashing the southwestern Khuzestan Province have dumped around 76,500 tons of dust on the provincial capital Ahvaz in the current Iranian year (ending March 20), according to an official.
Speaking at a conference in Ahvaz’s Shahid Chamran University on March 1, Yadollah Hazrati, chief executive of Ahvaz Power Distribution Company, said, “The amount of dust particles unleashed on Ahvaz in the current Iranian year equals 7,650 trucks carrying 10 tons of soil each.”
Severe dust storms in recent months have disrupted life in the oil-rich province, with the storms causing power outages in many cities on at least three occasions.
According to Hazrati, the contents of the dust storms—and not the intensity—are to blame for the blackouts.
“There are high concentrations of certain particles, namely sulfate and sulfur, in recent storms, which were previously found in lower quantities,” he said.
“These elements are highly conducive and their presence in high concentrations overcharged the power grids, knocking out electricity.”
The government has earmarked $100 million to combat dust storms in the next Iranian year.
The money, which will be supplied from the National Development Fund of Iran, will be used to implement key projects such as reforestation, mulching and revival of wetlands and rivers that have become major hotspots for SDS.
Dust storm hotspots cover some 300,000 hectares of Khuzestan, while experts say some 700,000 hectares have the potential to become hotspots.
While the budget of $100 million is about a quarter of what experts say is needed to effectively tackle dust storms sourced in Iran, what worries environmentalists is that the administration of President Hassan Rouhani might not be able to come up with the money.
Nevertheless, Mohammad Baqer Nobakht, the government spokesman and head of the Management and Planning Organization, promised last week that “the government will supply the budget to the last dime”.
Although about 75% of dust storm emissions worldwide come from natural (as opposed to manmade) sources, the vast majority of hotspots that contribute to SDS in Iran and the Middle East at large are caused by human activities.
Desiccation of wetlands and rivers in Syria and Iraq due to a severe drop in water flow from Turkey as a result of Ankara’s unrestrained dam construction has exacerbated the problem.
This is while in Khuzestan, local land degradation driven by unsustainable development has made large swathes of the province major contributors to dust storms.
Outdated oil extraction methods and failure to uphold the water rights of wetlands have led to the drying up of major rivers and marshlands in the province.

 

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