Joint project with WB to clean up lakes of Absheron Peninsula

By Fatma Babayeva

The World Bank (WB) is keen to provide investments to solve ecological problems of the lakes in Absheron Peninsula of Azerbaijan.

The bank plans to finance the Absheron Lakes Cleanup and Rehabilitation project, which covers four lakes located in the southwestern part of Baku: Khojasan, Lokhbatan, Gu, and Girmizi.

The WB Board of Directors will discuss the project on July 18, 2017, Trend reports.

The project with the estimated cost of $100 million will be financed by the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, a member of WB group, ($85 million) and Azerbaijan’s government ($15 million).

The project to be implemented by the Ministry of Economy of Azerbaijan will contribute to the ecosystem of the lakes and help to reduce pollution in the Absheron Peninsula.

The Absheron Peninsula hosts 70 percent of the country's industrial potential, which is regarded as major polluter in the area.

There are over 200 lakes in the peninsula with an overall area of 3,325 hectares. Each year, 41.5 million cubic meters of waste water are discharged into these lakes. Pollution of these lakes has many negative environmental impacts on the attached areas such as soil degradation, salinization, emission of harmful substances into the atmosphere as a result of evaporation process and lands left underwater due to risen level of lakes.

General water, sanitation and flood protection sector will make up 65 percent of the mentioned project budget, solid waste management 20%, wastewater treatment and disposal 15 percent.

“The government of Azerbaijan is committed to scaling up the cleanup and revitalization of the Absheron lakes and the surrounding area,” the WB said.

Both the government and industry are paying increased attention to the improvement of environmental quality in urban areas as a way to sustain investments and development. The residential expansion of the Baku area will occur to the west and to the east, where polluted lakes and lands are located, according to the WB.

Urban lakes are a key feature of the landscape that could, if properly cleaned up, significantly contribute to the improvement in the quality of life in the Greater Baku area. Land redevelopment, if managed appropriately, will also bring development and employment opportunities and share of prosperity to the local population, the bank believes.

"The government of Azerbaijan undertook a strategic effort to clean up a part of the Boyuk Shor Lake and has already started the lakes’ second phase cleanup,” said the WB.

Regulating authorities also recognize that addressing such issues is highly complex, and requires a systemic approach and high level of technical expertise as well as significant financial resources, the bank assures.

Technical assistance on the project is estimated at $3 million. $95 million will be spent on cleanup and ecological rehabilitation of the lakes that includes, in particular, the work on lakes and in rivers in Khojasan and Lokbatan.

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