Azerbaijan, Baku, July 31 / Trend T. Jafarov /
Iran and Azerbaijan have been cooperating in the use of water from the Araz River for more than 42 years. There is a specific agreement in this sphere. Iran is using part of its territory to transfer water from the Araz River into Lake Urmia, Iranian Ambassador to Azerbaijan Mohsen Pakayin said at a press-conference in connection with the Quds Day today.
An agreement was reached with the Azerbaijani side, because each party has the right to enjoy its own share, the ambassador said. "One understands Azerbaijan's cautious approach to the issue connected with Lake Urmia. The basis of this project has been recently laid.
Around 2-3 years are required for its implementation. Excess water from the Araz River will be transferred to Lake Urmia, as the water level rises in the Araz river a result of rainfall and floods occur. Excess water will be transferred to the Urmia lake due to the special mechanism."
It should be stressed that the opening ceremony of the project of transferring water of the Araz River to Lake Urmia and Marand plain was held with the participation of Iran's First Deputy President Mohammedrza Rahimi and Energy Minister Majid Namdz on July 27.
An investment agreement worth 875 million euros was signed with a foreign investor to implement this project. The project envisages the transfer of water from the river Araz to Julfa, Marand, Shabestar and Tabriz plains. The issue of drinking water in eight towns and 81 villages will be resolved.
It should be noted that the area of Lake Urmia totals nearly six thousand square kilometers. During the migration of migratory birds, the lake becomes their temporary home. Because of the prolonged drought, Urmia shallows, having an impact on the flora and fauna of the region. Experts on environmental issues say that the measures taken by the Iranian government to save the lake are insufficient.
In 2010, during the visit of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and members of the government to Tabriz, the project for transfer of 600 million cubic meters of water from the Araz River to Lake Urmia was approved. $1.2 billion will be allocated for this project.
In September 2011, the Iranian government has allocated $900 million to prevent shallowing of the lake.
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has allocated $135 million for Iran to address environmental issues of the shoaling Lake Urmia.