Tashkent, Uzbekistan, Sept. 8
By Demir Azizov- Trend:
Uzbekistan's government has adopted a comprehensive program to mitigate the consequences of the Aral Sea disaster in 2015-2018.
It is planned to allocate a total of $4.3 billion for the projects on restoration and socio-economic development of the Aral Sea region, according to the program.
The document has been worked out jointly with the Executive Committee of the International Fund for Saving the Aral Sea and Charity Fund for Aral Sea Gene Pool Protection.
In order to fulfill measures on improving the management systems and rational use of water resources in the region, it is planned to implement projects with the total cost of $1.099 billion.
Uzbekistan will allocate $388.3 million for this purpose, while the loans and grants from international financial institutions will be $711 million.
Moreover, $433,69 million will be allocated to create favorable conditions for reproduction and preservation of the gene pool and the health of the population living in the zones of environmental risk; $321.2 million - for taking measures to increase the employment and form income sources in order to increase the level and quality of the population's life in Aral Sea region and $158.1 million - for restoring the ecosystem and biodiversity, as well as for conservation and protection of flora and fauna.
The program also envisages measures for the socio-economic development of regions in the Republic of Karakalpakstan and Khorezm province.
The current environmental situation in the Aral Sea region is a global problem that affects the whole territory of Central Asia, said the document.
Up to 1960, the Aral Sea was the fourth largest lake in the world covering an area of 68,900 square kilometers with water volume of 1.083 million cubic kilometers.
So far, water volume in the Aral Sea has declined by over 13 times, and its area has shrunk by over seven times. Water level in the Aral Sea has dropped by 26 meters, while the shoreline has receded by hundreds of kilometers.
Meanwhile, water salinity in the Aral Sea has multiplied.
Consequences of this environmental catastrophe have affected the living conditions of millions of people residing near the Aral Sea.
Large areas of white salt fields, covered with sand, have appeared in the dried-up part of the sea, turning into a new desert 'Aralkum', which covers an area of over five million hectares.
The International Fund for Saving the Aral Sea was established in 1993 with the participation of Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan.
The objectives of the fund are the conservation of biological fund, maintenance of a favorable condition of the environment, ensuring improvement of the quality and standard of living of the population. Since December 2008, the IFAS has an observer status in the UN General Assembly.
In September 2013, a program of measures to eliminate the consequences of drying of the Aral Sea and prevent ecosystem disasters in the Aral Sea has been distributed as an official document of the 68th session of the UN General Assembly.
In the period of activity of the IFAS, three programs to assist countries in the Aral Sea basin, aimed at sustainable development, improvement of water resources management and environmental protection were adopted. In accordance with the decision of the heads of IFAS member states, Uzbekistan since 2013 is the chairman of the foundation for the next three years.
Edited by CN