$88m Allocated for Urmia Lake Restoration

$88m Allocated for Urmia Lake Restoration$88m Allocated for Urmia Lake Restoration

The Iranian government on Sunday allocated 3 trillion rials ($88 million) to the Urmia Lake Restoration Program for the remainder of the current Iranian year that ends on March 20, 2017.

The Cabinet, headed by President Hassan Rouhani, in its weekly meeting agreed to fund the ULRP following widespread criticism over inadequate state efforts to save the largest lake in the Middle East, IRIB News Agency reported.

The news comes less than a month after the government of Japan pledged to provide $3.8 million over the next four years to revive the lake in northwestern Iran as part of a trilateral agreement Tehran signed with Tokyo and the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization.

The ULRP, which was launched in 2013 by President Rouhani and is implemented by former agriculture minister, Isa Kalantari, has cooperated with experts to replenish the lake that now contains only 5% of the water it held 20 years ago.

Revival efforts have progressed well, with officials announcing in July that they have stabilized the lake's water level that paves the way for the launch of the restoration phase.

The lake’s drastic water loss is attributed to climate change, drought, unrestrained damming and excessive water use, especially in the agriculture sector.

According to Kalantari, around $8 billion are needed to completely restore the lake.