Environmental Problems of Turkey`s Dam

Energy Minister Hamid Chitchian warned that environmental problems in southern Khuzestan Province. notably the worsening sand and dust storms. are the ripple effects of Turkey`s aggressive dam construction policies.
`They (Turkey) are building a large number of dams on the Euphrates and Tigris rivers. The move has curtailed the flow of water from Turkey into Syria and Iraq.` Chitchian said on the sidelines of a Cabinet meeting. ILNA reported Thursday.
The Tigris and Euphrates. with their tributaries. form a major river system in Western Asia. From sources in the Taurus Mountains of eastern Turkey. they flow through Syria and Iraq into the Persian Gulf.
Prominent experts and environmentalists have long warned that Turkey`s extensive dam-building plans on the two rivers have reduced and will continue to shrink the flow of water into Syria and Iraq. the latter sharing borders with Iran. The situation has caused massive dust storms in Khuzestan that originate from desiccated wetlands in Iraq.
`We haven`t had any negotiations with Turkey (on dam constructions). But it`s obviously taking a high toll on Iran`s environment.` Chitchian noted. `Necessary investigations and measures should be carried out` he said without elaboration.
Turkey is pursuing an ambitious regional development project. known as the Southeastern Anatolia Project. covering agriculture and irrigation. urban and rural infrastructure. forestry. education and health development plans. It also entails the construction of 22 dams and 19 power plants.
Last month. an Iranian environmental group launched an online petition appealing to the United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres to intervene and pressure the Ankara government to abandon its reckless dam construction.
In the petition. the group called on the UN chief to help end Turkey`s `destructive` love for damming.
They said the construction of gigantic structures since the 1970s have led to the drying up of rivers and wetlands in Iraq and Syria. and exacerbated the region`s seemingly unending fight against dust and sand storms.
  Domestic Plans
Close to 90 dams are being built across Iran. said the minister. Some dams are close to completion and were recently commissioned.
`We have taken important measures to expand the export of technical and engineering services. including the construction of dams in Kenya. Sri Lanka. Tajikistan and Iraq. among other countries.` Chitchian said.
According to published reports. Iran is the world’s third leading country in dam construction with 200 contracting companies. Over the past three decades. it has built 600 dams. on average 20 a year. to irrigate farms and provide electricity.
On a different note. Chitchian said his ministry has no plans to raise water and electricity tariffs in the present fiscal year that ends in March 2018.
`Based on the laws passed by Parliament. no increase is envisaged in water and power prices.` he said.

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