People, Environment

Solutions to Gotvand Dam Problems Elusive

Solutions to Gotvand Dam Problems ElusiveSolutions to Gotvand Dam Problems Elusive

Solutions to the environmental impacts of the Gotvand Dam in Khuzestan Province have so far eluded the authorities, according to Iran’ top environment official.

“We have a team of experts working exclusively to find solutions to curb the damages caused by the construction and operation of the dam,” Massoumeh Ebtekar, head of the Department of Environment, told the media last week on her sixth trip to the Ahvaz since taking office, ISNA reported.

Construction on the dam began in 2011, two years before the self-styled “environment-friendly government” of President Hassan Rouhani took office, and the dam has caused nothing but trouble for the environmentally-vulnerable oil province.

Environmental officials say the dam contributed to the death of 400,000 palm trees in Arvandkenar in 2014, due to exponentially increasing the salinity of the key Karoun River, which has made the already harsh environment unbearable for palm trees.

The damage has severe implications on Iran’s agriculture and economy because 40% of Iran’s exported dates are produced in this southern province.

The dam on Karoun River was constructed amid widespread protest from environmentalists and scientists who warned that the harm of the dam outweighs its help.

Following claims earlier this year by the Iran Water and Power Resources Company that the dam’s construction had DOE approval; the department issued a swift response accusing the company of failure to disclose the presence of salt domes in the region that would be submerged in the reservoir in their proposal.

In addition to wiping out palm trees and increasing salinity of the Karoun, evidence shows that the dam has also taken a toll on the province’s wetlands and contributed generously to the desertification crisis, which in turn is gradually displacing large numbers of rural residents and pushing them into major cities like Abadan and Ahvaz, which cannot cope with the migration.

“None of the proposed solutions have been approved, because none of them could be guaranteed to produce the desired results,” the news agency quoted the DOE’s Ebtekar as saying.