Iran ‘Weaponizing’ Dying Penalty To Frighten Public, Says UN


Because the ending touches are placed on Iran’s newest main dam challenge, environmentalists and archaeologists are warning that it might spell the tip for an space within the nation’s southwest fed by the diminishing waters of the Zohreh River.

The Chamshir Dam, the nation’s newest large hydropower enterprise, is ready to go on stream in March. However because the clock winds down, critics are making a determined bid to cease the challenge, warning that it’ll flip agricultural lands right into a salty wasteland and flood newly found archaeological websites.

The Zohreh River, which can fill the dam’s reservoir, will not be what it was within the Nineteen Sixties, when authorities first had designs to harness its energy to provide electrical energy and increase irrigation in impoverished Khuzestan Province and different areas of southwestern Iran.

Lately, seasonal droughts have at instances lowered the brackish waters of the river to a trickle because it winds its technique to the Persian Gulf, endangering flood-dependent flora and wildlife and contributing to water shortages which have sparked offended protests in Khuzestan.

The large dam and adjoining hydroelectric plant, financed by means of a high-interest, $244 million mortgage from China, has been erected on the western fringe of Kohgiluyeh and Boyer-Ahmad Province, and can reduce off downriver Khuzestan from the pure circulate of the already careworn Zohreh River to fill its reservoir.

The dam’s operator has stated that the reservoir will maintain 2.3 billion cubic meters of water and generate 482 megawatts of hydroelectric energy a 12 months, whereas the authorities have offered it as a technique to quench farmers’ thirst for reliable water provides to spice up agricultural output.

Will Chamshir Dam be one other grand catastrophe?

However residents of the area, which sits on an in depth mattress of gypsum and salt often called the Gachsaran Formation, would not have to look far to see the destruction wrought by the federal government’s earlier failures to handle scarce water provides regardless of grand guarantees.

The Gotvand Dam, constructed within the Nineties and situated simply 250 kilometers northwest of the Chamshir challenge, was located subsequent to a big salt dome. Regardless of warnings, the challenge went forward and in the end left the authorities coping with a brine-filled reservoir.

And in 2021, offended protesters who took to the streets of Khuzestan and neighboring Isfahan Province pointed to the Chadegan Dam, situated 250 kilometers north of the Chamshir Dam, and different large-scale initiatives from the Seventies because the supply of their water woes.

WATCH: Water shortages within the Iranian province of Isfahan led to mass protests in November 2021 and a brutal authorities response. Farmers within the province say the scenario nonetheless has not improved and accuse officers of gross mismanagement.

Flood Of Criticism

Nomads have roamed the realm surrounding the Chamshir challenge because the Sassanid Empire, the final Persian imperial dynasty earlier than the Muslim conquest of the mid-seventh century.

Greater than 140 historical websites from the Sassanid and Islamic eras lie within the basin destined to turn out to be a reservoir, 124 of them newly found. However with valuable little time to excavate the websites, archaeologists worry that very important items of the nation’s historical past will quickly be drowned and that modern-day nomads will probably be compelled out.

For his or her half, environmentalists have strongly objected to the challenge, saying that apart from salt deposits the reservoir can be set on capped oil wells. They’ve referred to as for it to be halted instantly till additional influence research will be carried out.

The dam’s operators have downplayed the criticism and careworn the significance of pooling valuable water provides. They’ve additionally argued that considerations about excessive salinity are unfounded as a result of salt deposits are buried a whole lot of meters under the floor.

Mahmud Muharniya, the dam’s supervisor, stated in a December press convention that “there isn’t a proof of the presence of salt on the floor” and that comparisons to different controversial initiatives are misguided. Muharniya additionally stated that the reservoir will probably be stuffed with waters from the winter flood season, which he stated lessens the salinity of the Zohreh River and can present higher-quality water.

Examine In Open Opposition

However these arguments have achieved little to assuage critics’ considerations, as evidenced by movies, petitions, and open letters penned by researchers and environmental authorities.

Hossein Akhani, a outstanding botanist who has studied Iran’s salt-imbued landscapes for many years, took to Instagram as early as 2021 to point out that top salinity had already taken its toll on flora close to the brand new dam challenge.

“Your dam was so salty that it was revealed after solely two days of visits,” Akhani wrote in feedback to a video he posted exhibiting useless and broken bushes. “You possibly can proceed to trick ignorant officers with false claims, however the fact does not cover.”

Extra not too long ago, college professors and environmental specialists have pushed again with a petition signed by greater than 23,000 individuals declaring the Chamshir Dam a “hazard,” as a consequence of faults within the reservoir mattress and the existence of 11 oil wells in and across the reservoir. The authors of the petition, together with Akhani, additionally stated that halting the circulate of winter flood waters will disrupt the pure strategy of desalination and soil fertilization, and can create a mud bowl.

Different teachers have listed different negatives, together with the disruption of nomadic existence, the dependence on Chinese language funding, the lack of belief within the authorities, and the continuation of a flawed “American” concept of progress that started with large-scale growth initiatives a long time earlier than the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

In an interview in late December with the Tehran-based Payam-e Ma newspaper, Mehdi Hajikazem, the civil affairs supervisor of Chamshir Dam, dismissed the considerations. Hajikazem stated that analysis relating to the challenge was “open to everybody” and that teachers who took his workplace up on its supply to check it got here away satisfied that the dam poses no menace.

“It isn’t my accountability to determine whether or not to cease [the project],” Hajikazem stated, accusing critics of merely being towards the development of dams below any circumstances. “However as a patriotic Iranian, I say that this dam is actually vital.”

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