Code: 1663
  Published Date:  Tuesday, July 5, 2016

“Save Mesopotamia Area” campaign calls for ceasing Turkish-sourced dust storms

Recurrent dust storms have become a matter of serious concern for Iran.

(Iran's Environment News Agency) - Some believe that the Ataturk dam which is a part of a big Turkish project, called Southeastern Anatolia Project (with its Turkish acronym GAP), is the major culprit for this detrimental phenomenon as this dam and another 14 ones are built on the Tigris and Euphrates rivers and are almost completely restricting and violating the water right of other countries these two rivers pass through.
Ataturk dam itself stores some 50 billion cubic meters of water which almost equals the amount of water that all 650 dams in Iran hold, Fatemeh Zafarnejad a researcher in the field of water and sustainable development said.
Euphrates river originates in Turkey and runs into Syria then to Iraq and finally it flows into Horolazim wetland which is shared between Iran and Iraq.
She further explained that Tigris river which also originates in Turkey directly flows into Iraq and winds its way to Horolazim wetland too. Tigris and Euphrates are the rivers which flow into Horolazim and they play an important role in keeping the wetland full.
But since the beginning of the GAP project, a project aims at contributing to Turkey’s economic and social development by mobilizing and utilizing the resources of the region, the two rivers cannot fulfill their natural and original purpose which is to flow into Iraq and Syria and subsequently the two countries are facing great problems and many villages became deserted and uninhabited in these areas, she regretted.
Moreover, Horolazim wetland is also partly dried up and became a hot spot for the recurrent dust storms for Iran, she noted.
She went on to say that what the Turkish government is trying to accomplish by hindering the natural flow of the two rivers of Tigris and Euphrates is in sharp contrast with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) and United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) which (surprisingly) Turkey has adopted and is a member of.
In line with what’s just said and to stop any further damages to the region’s environment, Hooman Khakpour, an environmentalist and a member of the environmental organization networks and natural resources of Iran, is one the people who initiated a campaign called “Save Mesopotamia Area” in Iran, a campaign which is almost a week old.
Fatemeh Zafarnejad, Mohammad Darvish an official with the Department of Environment, and Hamidreza Khodabakhshi an official with water and electricity organization of Khuzestan province are the other three who started the campaign.
The campaign is aiming at shedding light on the devastating effects of Turkish dams on the political, social and environmental challenges the region is facing.
Khakpour explained that so far some 3,500 environmentalists and more than 200 environmental organizations have voiced their support for the campaign and the number is keep on growing day by day.
Khakpour noted that the campaign is gaining strength among environmentalist for the time being and that in the next step they would propagate the idea among the public.
“What we are trying to achieve is to make the public care about this issue,” he said, adding, “some might be aware of the issue and have some information about it but they don’t care.”
“At this stage we are not seeking any governmental support,” he added, “When we succeed in getting enough members we take the issue to the higher levels.”
He went on to say that “all governments worldwide might get forgetful and might not give priority to such matters. That’s why we started to get the public support first.”
Khakpour, who has been an environmentalist for over a decade, explained that Turkey is also planning on increasing the number of the dams and develop its farmlands by another one and a half hectares by the end of 2016.
However, he believed that Turkey is not an exception and even Iran might have done the same mistakes about its transboundary rivers and have caused problems for other countries as well.
Turkey has adopted UNCCD and UNDRIP and is bound by those contracts to let the water flow into those rivers once again, he said.
Turkey must provide the aforementioned rivers with their water right in the first place and the extra amount of water can be used for developmental purposes of the country, he highlighted.
Right now we have to wait to see if the Foreign Ministry or the international bodies such as UN would employ any practical measures to stop such a project which has set the scene for many social, political and environmental predicaments in the region.
Those interested to join the campaign can click on the link below:
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