Rouhani Urged to Include Hamouns in Afghan Pact

Rouhani Urged to Include  Hamouns in Afghan PactRouhani Urged to Include  Hamouns in Afghan Pact

Deputy head of the Department of Environment has urged President Hassan Rouhani to address environmental concerns in any bilateral agreement with Afghanistan due to be signed at the weekend, Khabaronline reported.

On the eve of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s first official visit to Iran today, Ahmad Ali Keykha has appealed for several environmental problems to be raised in talks between the senior officials of the two countries. “Preservation of the Hamoun Wetlands must be one important factor in determining Iran-Afghan ties.”

The senior DoE official called the lack of diplomatic cooperation between the two neighbors  in the past “a key factor in the desiccation” of the Hamouns, and said, “Things have now changed, however, and the Rouhani administration has made great strides in establishing diplomatic ties with other countries.”

The Hamouns are transboundary wetlands on the Iran-Afghan border and are comprised of three lakes; Hamoun-e Helmand which is entirely in Iran, Hamoun-e Sabari, and Hamoun-e Puzak, which extend into Afghan territory with the latter being almost entirely inside the neighboring country. The three lakes are linked and fed by water from Afghanistan’s Helmand River.

The development of dams and canals in Afghanistan led to water being drawn off to feed agriculture in the poor 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 itself, diverting more water and speeding up the desiccation of the wetlands.