By Abdul Kerimkhanov
Armenia’s occupation of the Nagorno-Karabakh and the adjacent seven districts has caused environmental crisis in the region.
Azerbaijani Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources official Mutallim Abdulhasanov has said that the occupation has caused problems in use of water resources as water bodies in the occupied Azerbaijani territories are subject to great anthropogenic influence.
“In these territories, small and big water sources are being destroyed, and as a result, a unique territory is seriously affected,” Abdulhasanov noted.
Clarifying the damage, Abdulhasanov said that 10 reservoirs are out of order in the territories occupied by Armenia, including the Sarsang reservoir (occupied in November 1992), with the volume of 560 million cubic meters of water, designed for irrigation of more than 100,000 hectares of cultivated land. Located in the occupied zone, the Sarsang reservoir is used as a means of environmental pressure, Abdulhasanov added.
Abdulhasanov also spoke about the contamination of the Kura River by Armenia.
“Because three quarters of Azerbaijan’s territory are located in the lower relief of the Kura basin, which is Azerbaijan’s biggest water body, transboundary pollution of the river creates environmental tension,” Abdulhasanov added.
He explained that the wastewater of industrial facilities of big cities in Armenia, not being treated, is being discharged into rivers, as a result, water basins are polluted.
The minister said that pollution of these rivers with copper, molybdenum, zinc, phenol and other substances are 10 times higher than the norm.
“Future continuation of industrial projects in this country will further pollute Azerbaijan’s and Iran’s rivers and seriously threaten the environment of the entire region. In order to study the situation of pollution of transboundary rivers by Armenia, an analytical laboratory with modern equipment operates in the Araz river basin, and the relevant structures constantly monitor the situation,” he stated.
Abdulhasanov recalled that Azerbaijan ratified the Helsinki Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes (Water Convention), adding that Armenia’s reluctance to join this Convention makes it impossible to resolve these issues in a regional and multilateral format.
He stressed that Armenia’s occupation policy causes serious damage to Azerbaijan’s nature, biological diversity and ecological situation of the entire region, leading to consequences that foster environmental degradation.
Note that Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) adopted the resolution called “Intentional deprivation of water for residents of the frontline areas of Azerbaijan” on January 26, 2016, which emphasizes the need for global management of the use and upkeep of the Sarsang water resources, with international supervision of the irrigation canals, the Sarsang and Madagiz dams.
Article 4 of the resolution states that PACE “deplores the fact that the occupation by Armenia of Nagorno-Karabakh and other adjacent areas of Azerbaijan creates similar humanitarian and environmental problems for the citizens of Azerbaijan living in the Lower Karabakh valley.”
Article 7.1 of the same resolution called on the Armenian authorities “to cease using water resources as tools of political influence or an instrument of pressure benefiting only one of the parties to the conflict.”
Azerbaijan has repeatedly alerted the international community about dire ecological situation in the occupied Nagorno-Karabakh region.
In 2007, Azerbaijan’s Minister of Emergency Situations Kamalladin Heydarov said that Armenian forces burnt down 40,000 ha of land in Azerbaijan’s occupied territories.
The separatist authorities in Karabakh have not taken any measures for the preservation of the ecological situation in the captured territories.
Abdul Kerimkhanov is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow him on Twitter: @AbdulKerim94
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