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Animals to be evacuated from Iran’s Urmia Lake islands

12 August 2013 16:51 (UTC+04:00)
Animals to be evacuated from Iran’s Urmia Lake islands

By Sara Rajabova

The environmental problems, such as Urmia Lake shoaling problem, for some time is a source of big concern in Iran.

Despite the Iranian government has prepared projects for restoration of Lake and cooperates with neighbor country Azerbaijan to direct Araz River water into the Lake, these efforts couldn't get desired results to date.

Thus, all animals habiting in islands of Urmia Lake will be transferred to suitable habitats, general director of the Organization for Environmental Protection of the Iranian Province of West Azerbaijan Hassan AbbasNejad said, ISNA news agency reported.

"During last two months some 5 tons of forage and 50,000 liters of water have been transferred to Urmia Lake islands," he said, adding that the organization is reviewing suitable replacement habitats for wildlife of the islands.

He also remarked that uncontrolled usage of water is the main factor in Urmia Lake drying up problem.

He emphasized importance of saving Urmia Lake, and said that continuing current situation imposes serious problems for people living alongside the lake.

Earlier in May, former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has issued a special order for speeding up efforts to restore Lake Urmia.

The president has requested the energy ministry to take advantage of all available capacities to save the lake.

Lake Urmia in northwest Iran is experiencing its worst drought condition for many years, where over 70 per cent of its water has dried up. The level of the water has been declining since 1995.

Officials say if the current restoration efforts are not effective, the lake will be turned into a swamp within four years.

The area of Lake Urmia is about 6,000 square kilometers. The lake's drying up has an impact on the flora and fauna of the region. Experts on environmental issues say that the measures taken by the Iranian government are not enough to save the lake.

The project on directing 600 million cubic meters of water from Araz River into Lake Urmia was launched during a visit by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and government officials to Tabriz in 2010. Some $1.2 billion is to be allocated to implement the project.

The Iranian government allocated $900 million for the prevention of Lake Urmia's drying up in September 2011.

Also, the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) has allocated $135 million to Iran to resolve environmental problems with shoaling of the lake.

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