People, Environment

Road Access to Lorestan’s Gahar Lake Disputed

Road Access to Lorestan’s Gahar Lake DisputedRoad Access to Lorestan’s Gahar Lake Disputed

Demands for expanding a road in the vicinity of Gahar Lake in Lorestan Province have caused concern among environmentalists who demand its complete closure.

The road was built in 2002 on the grounds of providing access to nomadic communities despite protests by environmental NGOs.

“The construction of the road was illegal in the first place since it stretches for 15 kilometers across Oshtoran Kouh Protected Area,” Reza Asadi, a representative of Lorestan’s environmental NGO association, told ILNA.

This is while authorities have repeatedly sought to lengthen the road, but faced opposition by environmental activists every time.

“Pledges to complete and expand the road to help boost tourism have become a means of securing high official positions over the years,” said Asadi.

According to the environmentalist, the main problem is the transit of road vehicles.

“We urged the provincial office of Department of Environment to set up a park ranger’s station to stop vehicles from driving through the protected area and they said they would, but cars still pass across the road although a temporary ranger’s station has been installed,” he said.

Experts are of the opinion that the region is only suitable for ecotourism and cars’ access to the lake is very dangerous for the ecosystem.

“If the road is extended to reach the lake, it will spell the end of a national treasure,” said Asadi.

The head of Lorestan’s Department of Environment states that the road was created decades ago and is only “a bridle path” to transfer food for nomads.

“The road wasn’t built recently and is not in the vicinity of Gahar Lake,” added Mehrdad Fat’hi Beyranvand, noting that it takes up to four hours of walking to reach the lake from the road.

He also said that he has not seen any roads in the area during his many visits.

“A road has neither been built nor will we allow one to be built,” he said.

However, the official confirmed that requests have been made for widening the road but only by the Nomadic Affairs Office.

“We have ordered feasibility studies and the scheme will certainly be implemented only by DOE’s permit and within legal frameworks,” he said.

Beyranvand dismissed claims about tourism officials’ request to widen the road, stressing that the development has only been proposed by nomadic affairs authorities.

A bridle path is a trail or a thoroughfare used by people riding on horses.

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