People, Environment

Gov’t Approves Shafaroud Dam Project

Gov’t Approves Shafaroud Dam ProjectGov’t Approves Shafaroud Dam Project

Despite opposition from environmental groups and authorities, First Vice President Es’haq Jahangiri has approved plans on behalf of the government to construct Shafaroud Dam in Gilan Province.

Speaking to ILNA, Hamid Jalalvandi, director of the Environmental Assessment Office at the Department of Environment, said the administration’s move to build the dam will result in cutting down 93 hectares of the unique Caspian Hyrcanian forests.

“Although the project initially aimed to clear 350 hectares of forestland, in the end it was brought down to 93 hectares,” he said.

Jalalvandi said DOE had suggested the dam to only be used to supply drinking water, which would have resulted in the clearance of only 50 hectares of forest.

“But other entities, including the Forests, Range and Watershed Management Organization, Management and Planning Organization and the Energy Ministry, opted for the dam to be used for industrial and agricultural purposes as well,” he said.

“Needless to say, their proposal was approved.”

Jalalvandi said the plan still needs to be environmentally evaluated before construction can commence.

“Our hands are tied by the law; we cannot object to the construction of dams if their purpose is to provide drinking water. But we’re always against any project that harms forests,” he said.

The official said DOE has asked the ministry to conduct a thorough environmental assessment and submit the final report to the department.

“Legally speaking, they can tell us to mind our own business because FRWO—the organization in charge of forests—has approved the project,” he said.

Located about 65 kilometers from the provincial capital Rasht, the dam’s construction will result in the decimation of a substantial portion of the ecologically-diverse Caspian Hyrcanian forests.

The ministry and the Gilan Regional Water Authority argue that the construction of the dam is necessary to address severe water shortage in the region.

On the other hand, opponents of the project counter by pointing out that Gilan’s high annual rainfall overrides the need for a dam.

With 1,200 millimeters per annum—4.5 times above national and 1.2 times above global average—Gilan boasts the highest annual rainfall in Iran.