Baku, Azerbaijan, Jan. 8
By Umid Niayesh - Trend:
Restoring Urmia lake will take some 10-15 years, Iranian Energy Minister Hamid Chitchian said, Mehr news agency reported on Jan. 8.
"Political and promotional statements on Urmia lake, are unreal, they're empty promises. It's a treason towards people, Chitchian underlined in a meeting with Iran's East Azerbaijan Provinces` MPs.
He went on to say that uncontrolled development of agricultural areas around the Urmia Lake is the main reason for the lake's drying up, adding that if agricultural water consumption isn't managed properly, the Urmia lake never will be revived.
Chitchian said that agricultural areas around the Lake have increased from 150,000 hectares to 480,000 hectares in recent years.
The areas consume some 3.1 billion cubic meters of water per each year, he said, adding that the figure is exactly equal to the needed water for the lake's revival.
Climatic changes are another reason which led Urmia lake to dry up, Chitchian underlined.
Average temperature has increased by 1-2 degrees, while annual rainfall has decreased, he added.
"I asked the president Hassan Rouhani to appoint a certain person to handle the project aimed at revival of the lake," the minister said.
On Jan. 7, Rouhani criticized previous policy on the lake, saying that it's necessary to pursue the projects for the lake's survival.
"If the lake dries up, this kind of threat will not be comparable to any other threat," he said, adding that millions of citizens will be forced to immigrate from the nearby areas.
On September 21, Iranian media outlets quoted deputy Director of Iran's Water Resources Management Company, Yaqoub Hemmati as saying water input to the catchments of the Lake Urmia has decreased by 46 percent compared to the long-term average value which indicates that reviving Urmia lake is impossible.
Earlier in August Rouhani establish a working group to tackle the issue of saving the Urmia lake.
The work group was commissioned to use the background of the already conducted studies and technical research work in the field and to present their proposals for saving the Urmia lake to the government within a two-month period.
Urmia lake in north-west Iran is experiencing its worst drought in many years, where over 70 percent of its water has dried up. The water level of the lake has been declining since 1995.
Officials have said if the current restoration efforts are not effective, the lake will be turned into a swamp within four years. Urmia is the third largest salt water lake on earth with a surface area of approximately 5,200 square kilometers.