People, Environment

Timely Budget Allocation to Boost Urmia Restoration

Timely Budget Allocation to Boost Urmia RestorationTimely Budget Allocation to Boost Urmia Restoration

The Urmia Lake Restoration Program was set to receive nearly half of its budget for the current Iranian year on Saturday, an official with the program said.

"With less than four months to go before the current fiscal year ends (March 20, 2017), the government had reportedly pledged to provide 3 trillion rials ($75 million) for the ULRP," Masoud Tajrishi, the head of planning at ULRP, told IRNA.

The program's budget for the current fiscal year is 6.75 trillion ($169 million).

"The timely payment of the budget is key to restoration efforts," he added.

A multitude of factors, including climate change, mismanagement of resources, excessive damming and construction of a massive causeway to shorten the travel time between Urmia and Tabriz, has considerably dried up the lake in the past 20 years.

The revival of Iran's largest inland body of water has slowed in recent months due to intermittent cash injections, which has led to the suspension of a number of projects.

Set up in 2013 shortly after Rouhani took office, the ULRP set out to stabilize the lake's water level (Phase 1) before embarking on the more challenging task of restoring its water level to what it was more than a decade ago (Phase 2).

Despite the government's budget problems, President Hassan Rouhani's administration did well to meet the ULRP's financial needs to complete the first phase of the restoration project in three years, as it had been predicted.

The second phase started in late September, with the initial goal of increasing the water level by 40 centimeters in a year.

In September, a memorandum of understanding was signed by Iran, Japan and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization to help revive the imperiled lake in northwestern Iran, with Tokyo pledging to provide $3.8 million for restoration efforts over the next four years.

Officials have declared that Urmia Lake will be restored by 2023.

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