Tuesday, 17 May 2016

The demise of Lake Urmia sparks trouble in Iran

'Iran is becoming an uninhabitable desert’

Via Facebook

Once the world’s sixth largest saltwater lake, Lake Urmia, lost in the desolate mountains of northwestern Iran, has begun shrinking. As the lake has dried up and its shores have started to recede, the surrounding land has begun to die, causing an unprecedented ecological disaster.

Located near the Turkish border between the provinces of East Azerbaijan and West Azerbaijan, Lake Urmia has been vanishing for three decades.

The region is home to the Iranian-Azeri community, who depend on the lake for their livelihoods, and have been left devastated by its retreat. The ecological disaster has only further fuelled long-standing political resentment among the minority, which demands more cultural, economic and political rights, with tensions previously boiling over and people taking to the streets to urge the government to act.

In an attempt to develop and modernise Iran after the 1979 Islamic Revolution, President Mohammad Khatami launched a large building programme that was later continued by his successor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Overall, 70 dams were built on the rivers feeding Lake Urmia to supply water for the growing Iranian agricultural industry. In addition, more than 24,000 wells were illegally dug by villagers around the northwest region, further increasing the demise of Lake Urmia.

Once the lake began to die, so too did the hubbub of tourists' cars and the noise of shipping trucks that were once abundant. These days few outsiders venture here. Those who do are shocked to see abandoned boats that have been left as rusty scraps and look like stranded carcasses corroding away on the salty bottom.

The demise of Lake Urmia sparks trouble in Iran

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