Drought-hit Iran plays down concerns over water export
Tehran, June 26, IRNA -- The energy ministry has played down concerns among the Iranians over water export to Kuwait while the nation is experiencing a severe drought for the third year running. "The people must not be concerned over the issue of pumping water. Even though such a project is agreed to be implemented it would need at least five years to come on stream," the Persian daily Aftab-e Yazd quoted deputy energy minister Rasoul Zargar as saying.
"The issue of water export to the Persian Gulf littoral states is only a plan that may be taken into account," the Persian daily Aftab-e Yazd quoted deputy energy minister Rasoul Zargar as saying.
Iran is facing an absolute water crisis as a result of a severe drought hitting the country for the third year running, and also overconsumption of water.
Despite this, Kuwait and Iran have agreed to build a two-billion-dollar pipeline that will transport fresh water from western Iran to Kuwait.
A government team is to hold talks with a British-led consortium on building a pipeline to transport fresh water from Iran to Kuwait.
"If agreed, Iran will pump water from the points where it is wasted and flown into the Persian Gulf and Oman Sea," Zargar told Aftab-e Yazd.
He noted that water export can earn Iran an income which could help her sharply cut the time needed for certain projects to come on stream.
Asked by the daily to comment on the presence of the British-led consortium in Iran for talks on the project, Zargar said, "The consortium is comprised of the British and Kuwait private sectors and we have thus far had no talks with them."
"If we agree to export water to Kuwait, the British consortium would receive license for building a pipeline for this purpose," he said.
Gulf Utilities said earlier the Kuwaiti cabinet had finally approved the deal after more than a year of talks on the pipeline, which would ship water from Karkheh dam in western Iran.
Iran has been rationing water in several cities and provinces, including the second largest city Mashhad in the northeast.
The energy ministry has warned that the water might be rationed in the capital within less than three weeks if the water overuse keeps rising.
The water and sewage organization has cut off 4,000 consumers who were overusing water, generally for swimming pools and other nonessential use.
Officials have started to fine citizens who consume more than 20 cubic meters (20,000 liters) of water per month since Saturday.
Iran, a major food importer, is bracing for a third successive year of drought, suffering its worst drought in three decades in 2000.
Last year's drought destroyed an estimated 2.8 million tons of wheat crop and 280,000 tons of barley, and destroyed 800,000 head of livestock.
While this year's drought is affecting fewer regions, experts say its impact may be greater in communities which have not recovered from the losses of the past two years.
Last week, the drought had forced residents of 100 villages in central Iran to leave their homeland in search of water.
"Water resources in 100 villages have run dry and the cattle perished," a local official told IRNA, adding "We are arranging camps for the evacuees."
"Agriculture and animal husbandry has been the only source of income for these villagers. Now they have nothing to live on," he said.