People, Environment

Experts Write Open Letter to Oppose Disputed Water Scheme

Experts Write Open Letter to Oppose Disputed Water SchemeExperts Write Open Letter to Oppose Disputed Water Scheme

A group of environmental experts and academics have written an open letter to the country’s high-ranking officials urging them to scrap a contentious plan to transfer water from Caspian Sea in the north to Semnan Province in north-central Iran.

The water scheme, which aims to address Semnan’s water woes by meeting the drought-hit province’s demand for water from Caspian Sea via a 150-kilometer pipeline is costly and destructive, the experts said in the letter sent to the Leader of Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, which has also been forwarded to President Hassan Rouhani, Energy Minister Hamid Chitchian and Department of Environment chief, Massoumeh Ebtekar, among other officials.

“The project will cause irreparable damage to the environment and destroy ecosystems that have for so long played a key role in maintaining the country’s ecological balance,” the letter read.

“Harming them is not only against international conventions to which Iran subscribes, but it also signifies a blatant disregard to our own constitution.”

The experts lamented the lack of extensive environmental assessment of the plan and warned that these plans are not in compliance with the principles of Resistance Economy.

“Insistence upon devising and executing these schemes may even threaten our national security and do irreparable harm to our natural and cultural heritage,” it said.

Unconfirmed reports suggest the project will cost approximately 8 trillion rials ($231.8 million) and lead to the destruction of 94 hectares of the Caspian Hyrcanian Forests in Mazandaran Province.

Promoting rainfed agriculture, judicious water use (especially in the agro sector), wastewater recycling, separation of potable water from wastewater and implementation of watershed plans are among measures suggested by experts to help conserve water.

The consensus among experts is that gross mismanagement, more than any other factor, is at the root of the problem. Rapid development and haphazard expansion of infrastructure with total disregard for their long-term impact have created irreversible harm.

The letter is signed by Mohammad Darvish, the head of DOE’s Public Relations Office, and other researchers and academics from across Iran.