By Umid Niayesh - Trend:
The project on transferring water from Caspian Sea to the drying Lake Urmia is unprofessional, senior Iranian official said.
"Some people inside the administration try to prevent implementation of the government's plans for reviving the lake," Issa Kalantari, an official that was tasked with monitoring the efforts to revive the Lake Urmia said, Iran's Mehr news agency reported on May 26.
"These people hope to implement the project of water pipeline from the Caspian Sea to the lake with Iran's oil money," Kalantari said without revealing any further information.
If the water transfer project is implemented, some $20 billion of the country's assets will be lost, he added.
The project of the transferring water from Caspian Sea to Urmia Lake is not confirmed, and both Iranian and foreign experts do not approve it.
"Why should people pay money for inability of some officials to solve the problem," he underlined.
Earlier the head of Iran's Environmental Protection Organization, Masoumeh Ebtekar said that the Organization does not agree with the plan of transferring water from Caspian Sea or Aras River to Lake Urmia, saying these plans are unprofessional due to economic and environmental factors.
Commenting on the issue, Iranian environmentalist, Professor Esmail Kahrom said it is very difficult, because Caspian Sea is in the lower plain, and not on the same level as Urmia lake.
He said the altitude of Caspian Sea in some areas is about -21 meters below the level of the sea waters and oceans, but the Lake Urmia is almost 850 meters above the Caspian Sea, therefore Iran has to spend more money and energy to transfer the water.
The situation over the Lake Urmia has been widely debated by the Iranian officials and experts.
Lake Urmia in north-west Iran is experiencing its worst drought in many years, where over 70 percent of its water has dried up. The level 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. Previous reports said Lake Urmia needs 3.1 billion cubic meters of water per year to survive.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has established a working group to tackle the issue of saving Lake Urmia.
Issa Kalantari, who is also the secretary of the working group, went on to say that the approvals of the working group will be submitted to the administration in next weeks, forecasting that the revival projects will come to force within next month.
He also criticized mismanagement of the water sources in Urmia Lake's catchments in the agriculture sector.
Iran is located in an arid zone and the country has repeatedly faced drought in the past 40 years. The drought of 1992-2002 caused a major blow to agriculture. There were quotas imposed for fresh water in several cities, including Tehran.