TEHRAN — Efforts to stem the rapid drying up of Iran’s largest lake took a political turn this week after arrests were made in a local protest against the government?s inaction on the ecological disaster.
One of the largest salt lakes in the world and classified as a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO, Lake Orumiyeh has lost more than half of its surface over the last two decades due to drought and the damming of rivers feeding it.
The lake could be dried out in the next two to four years and lead to apocalyptic consequences if no urgent action is taken, according to local officials and environmental experts.
The lake’s disappearance would leave behind 10 billion tons of salt and jeopardise the lives of millions of people as well as the local agriculture, according to Orumiyeh lawmaker Javad Jahangirzadeh.
The parliament refused in mid-August to fast-track a rescue plan presented by local lawmakers to save the lake, which is situated between East and West Azarbaijan provinces in the northwest.
The refusal provoked Orumiyeh residents to demonstrate on August 27, only to be repressed by force, according to several Iranian news websites.
The confrontation was criticised by Jahangirzadeh, who warned officials against politicising “an environmental issue.”