High concentration of salt in the water has shut down the industrial and agricultural sectors around the southwestern Iranian city of Abadan and forced some of the residents to emigrate to other cities, an Iranian official says.
“In the last month, the situation has become so critical that business activities have been directly affected”, Masoud Khayyatzadeh, the president of the Abadan chamber of commerce told ILNA news agency on Monday, June 25, adding that investors have stopped their investments in Abadan and many government employees have submitted requests to move to other cities.
Abadan, located in the oil-rich province of Khuzestan was a major port, oil refining center and a symbol of modernity and prosperity before the 1979 revolution that replaced the monarchy with an Islamic republic. The city was completely destroyed during the 8-year war between Iran and Iraq (1980-1988) and has not rebuilt fully yet.
According to experts, the construction of the Gotvand dam on the major Khuzestan’s river Karun in 2004 resulted in a drastic increase of salt level in the water because the dam lies on salt beds. Water salinity forced Abadan’s water company to ration water for the residents a week ago.
Air pollution resulting from fine dust storms is another major environmental crisis Khuzestan is facing for more than a decade. Kazem Nasab Albaji, a member of the Iranian parliament recently announced that many of Khuzestan residents have moved to other cities for that very reason.
Eighty thousand people, mostly “academic and financial elite” are leaving Abadan only in the past year, a city official said recently.
The Water salinity has also affected the industrial sector. The high concentration of salt in the city water has reached the same level as sea water and it has forced factories to stop their operation, MP Khayyatzadeh told ILNA. Even Iran’s major oil refinery that is located in Abadan had to stop some of its operations in the recent days due to the water problems.
“People do not trust the officials anymore”, he said, adding that the government has promised to transfer fresh water to the province more than seven years, but so far it has failed to keep its word.
Dozens of Khuzestan citizens have come to the streets in recent days to protest the water crisis. According to reports, Abadan residents have to stand in long lines to buy drinking water.
Drought and water mismanagement has led to many protests in various parts of Iran in recent months.
Farmers in Isfahan Province held a number of noisy protests this year; on one occasion storming the Friday Prayer in the city of Isfahan March 16, mocking the prayer leader.