Jun 9, 2020, 3:58 PM
Journalist ID: 1195
News Code: 83815922
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Promise kept; reviving Urmia Lake

Orumiyeh, June 9, IRNA – The first promise by Hassan Rouhani made when he was first elected as president in 2014 was reviving the Urmia Lake which is on the verge of fulfillment after seven years by the government's spending 10,000 billion Tomans.

The drying up of Urmia Lake was raised for the first time at the cabinet in 2013 when President Rouhani convened his first meeting at the beginning of his first term which was welcomed by surprise among Iranians, people of Azarbaijan in particular.

The first step to revive the dying lake in the 11th government was taken by forming the Urmia Lake Restoration Program making involved several ministers in the related areas.

Then 27 plans were launched to solve the problem of haze around Urmia Lake which caused the process to accelerate by early 2015.

These plans included interbasin water transfer, water consumption reduction in agricultural sections, increasing water entrance to the lake, and even using wastewater capacity by observing environmental standards.

Now, after seven years since the plans have been launched, most of them have been finalized or are in the final stages of implementation.

The Urmia Lake began shrinking in the mid-2000s due to decades of longstanding drought spells and elevated hot summer temperatures. According to international statistics, the lake lost about 80 percent of its waterbed by 2015.

100,000 billion Rials investment in restoration process

Head of Iran's Plan and Budget Organization Mohammad Baqer Nobakht who went to the region to supervise the final stages of restoration said that the revival project of Urmia Lake was planned to be complete by the end of the current Iranian calendar year (March 20, 2021).

He made the remarks while talking to IRNA upon arrival in the capital city of East Azarbaijan province in the northwest of the country Monday morning.

He said that the major share of the project which started six years ago would finish by the year-end.

Nobakht said the project included phases to transfer water from the Zab River to Urmia Lake.

He added that a 26cm increase in the level of the lake and 89 square km in its width indicated the success of these plans in line with reviving Urmia Lake.

The senior government official further noted that Urmia Lake plans are worth 10,000 billion Tomans.

Lake Urmia, located between East and West Azarbaijan provinces, was once the largest salt-water lakes in the Middle East. It is habitat to many migratory and indigenous animals, including flamingos, pelicans, egrets, and ducks, and attracts hundreds of tourists every year who had bathed in the water to take advantage of the therapeutic properties of the lake.

Hardware measures to revive the lake ends in 12th government

Department of Environment Head Isa Kalantari said that hardware and engineering measure of restoration would end in this government with a good condition.

He also said that the lake has now 5.1 billion cubic meters of water which must reach 14.7 billion cubic meters seven years later, the time predicted as the final stage of restoration of the late in governmental plans.

Kalantari added that in addition to the 100,000 billion Rials spent so far, the project needs 10,000 billion Rilas of extra investment.

An extra 4,500 billion Rials allocated for the project

West Azarbaijan governor-general Mohammad Mehdi Shahriari said that sufficient money has been provided by the government to build a dam and a water transfer tunnel which would be fulfilled by January 2021.

Once water-supplying projects are completed and precipitation is in good condition, between two to three billion cubic meters of water would be annually supplied to Urmia Lake which would increase the level of water in the future.

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