People, Environment

Environmental Assessment of Controversial Dam Project

Environmental Assessment of Controversial Dam ProjectEnvironmental Assessment of Controversial Dam Project

The Energy Ministry has submitted its environmental evaluation of the contentious Shafaroud Dam project in the northern green Gilan Province to the Department of Environment.

Speaking to ILNA, Hamid Jalalvandi, director of the Environmental Assessment Office at the DOE, said the department will review the evaluation in two months.

“If we’re not satisfied with the assessment, we will propose changes. There may even be a need to reevaluate the project,” he said.

The project has run into increasing controversy ever since it was reported last year that the ministry was set to proceed with the construction of the dam.

Despite staunch opposition from environmental groups and authorities, First Vice President Es’haq Jahangiri endorsed the project on behalf of the government last October.

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

“The project initially aimed to clear 350 hectares of forestland, in the end it was brought down to 95 hectares,” Jalalvandi said.

The official added that the DOE had suggested the dam would be used to only 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 purposes as well,” he said.

The ministry and the Gilan Regional Water Authority insist 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 has the highest rainfall in Iran.