People, Environment

DOE: Do More With Less!

DOE: Do More With Less! DOE: Do More With Less!

The embattled Department of Environment’s proposed budget for the next fiscal year (starts March 20) has been slashed by $2 million, putting further pressure on a department that has come under heavy criticism in recent months for its apparent inability to effectively address the worsening environmental crisis.

The DOE budget for the current year is 1.74 trillion rials ($48 million), one of the lowest budgets of any government entity and has drawn the ire of environmentalists and experts alike.

Nevertheless, in the draft budget submitted to the Majlis by President Hassan Rouhani on Sunday, the department is set to receive 1.67 trillion rials ($46 million).

With the paltry funds, the department is expected to reduce the air quality in the metropolises drowning is air and noise pollution; mitigate dust storms that have afflicted two-thirds of the country; restore the devastated Lake Urmia; revive hundreds of wetlands on the verge of complete desiccation; put an end to the spread of invasive plant species across Anzali Wetland; hire more rangers to cover more ground and prevent poaching in protected areas; curb illegal wildlife trade; fund animal repopulation programs; preserve the country’s dwindling forest areas; clean up rivers that mostly resemble  wastewater; and provide provincial DOE offices with helicopters to combat wildfires. The list goes on!

On top of it all, Masoumeh Ebtekar, the DOE chief, has to pay the salaries of 6,000 employees – reportedly some of the lowest paid government employees.

Ebtekar and her department, visibly lacking money and political clout, are going to have a very long year ahead.