People, Environment

Water Supply Project on Hold

Water Supply Project on Hold Water Supply Project on Hold

Contrary to previous reports, the suspension of the construction of Sabzkouh Water Supply Tunnel in Chaharmahal-Bakhtiari Province is temporary, according to a senior official at the Department of Environment.

Local media quoted DOE chief Massoumeh Ebtekar as saying that the construction of the controversial tunnel was halted at the weekend. However, Hamid Jalalvandi, director of the Environmental Assessment Office at the department, says the project is on hold pending a final verdict.

“The project was suspended four months ago, after we notified the contractor that the construction of the tunnel did not comply with environmental regulations,” he told ILNA.

He said that the final verdict will be issued before the fiscal year is out (March 19) by the special DOE office.

The aim of the tunnel, whose construction began even before the proper permits were issued, is to transfer water to the Choghakhor, a rural region in the southwestern province. However, some experts, including Mahdi Pajouhesh, a faculty member at Shahr-e-Kord University, claim the real purpose of the project is to meet the huge water needs of the Chaharmahal-Bakhtiari Steel Company, which is owned by the Esfahan Steel Company, one of the biggest and most powerful companies in Iran.

To construct the tunnel several streams were choked off. If allowed to continue, the tunnel can inflict irreparable harm to the Sabzkouh Protected Area.

Independent economists and prominent academia have often warned about the threat of the water-intensive steel mills and the major petrochemical projects that were built in and around several cities “without perfect feasible studies.”

With the water crisis becoming worse with every passing year, the very existence of the huge factories has come under closer scrutiny. However, senior officials and owners of the mainly state-owned/affiliated plants have preferred not to openly talk about the water-related problems and/or the need to relocate the industrial behemoths enjoying government largesse in the form of subsidies.