People, Environment

DOE Powerless to Stop Destructive Projects

DOE Powerless to Stop Destructive ProjectsDOE Powerless to Stop Destructive Projects

An official at the Department of Environment has castigated the government and executive bodies for putting environmental conservation and protection of natural resources on second priority.

Speaking to ISNA, the DOE’s outspoken deputy for education and public participation, Mohammad Darvish, said a green government must do all it can to ensure no harm is done  to the environment, and that includes giving the DOE, the country’s foremost environmental protection agency, the power to veto harmful projects.

“There are nearly 200 dams in Iran that lack environmental assessment reports, which begs the question: How did the people behind the projects secure funding from the Management and Planning Organization for building the dams?” he asked.

The DOE’s inability to contest such projects is evidence that the department and its officials are not at all taken seriously.

Earlier this year, President Hassan Rouhani called his administration the “government of environment” and pledged to protect nature and its resources.

“When an administration claims to be green and eco-friendly, it has to give the body in charge of protecting the environment enough clout to veto plans and projects that will undermine the environment,” Darvish reiterated.

Among the most high profile projects that the DOE has so far been unable to stop are the construction of Khersan Dam in Chaharmahal-Bakhtiari Province, and converting  Ashouradeh Island in Golestan Province into a tourist resort.

“You’d be hard-pressed to find a single person in in the department who is okay with plans to turn Ashouradeh into a holiday resort; but that counts for nothing as it looks like those in charge of the project are going ahead with their plans,” the official complained.

Recently, the construction of Shafaroud Dam in Gilan Province made headlines which once again exposed the department’s helplessness in standing up for what is right for the environment.

Despite overwhelming evidence against the need to construct the dam and staunch opposition from environmental groups and the DOE, First Vice President Es’haq Jahangiri approved plans to build the dam in Gilan, whose annual rainfall is 1.2 times above global average.

“DOE officials are anxious about putting up a fight because they fear it will negatively impact the department’s budget in the following year(s),” he said.