Water Protests in Iran

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Zayanderud river in Iran has dried up, thanks to the government’s policies, negatively affecting the ecosystem and the lives of local people.

Due to this, farmers in Isfahan have held protests in recent days to demand their water rights; the latest of many. A farmer, identified as Seyed Morteza, told Mehr News that provincial officials have said water will be distributed in May, although nothing is known about the time, duration, or volume of the water supply.

He said: “We should prepare the land to cultivate. We must provide suitable seeds and fertilizer, but no one is responsible for us. We are left undecided and have no income with these economic conditions.”

Of course, farmers aren’t the only ones suffering because the flawed water distribution policy is harmful to the local ecosystem, with thousands of fish dying every time the Zayanderud river dries up, which affects not only the immediate food supply but also the animals higher on the food scale.

Mehr News wrote: “Even though MPs promised to follow up on farmers’ problems during a visit to the east of Isfahan last month, so far, no results have been obtained from this meeting for the livelihood and determination of farmers’ duties and demands.”

So where has the water gone? Well, because of the officials’ history of redistributing water for the private accommodation of officials’ affiliates and industrial projects of the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC), many believe that this might be the case. A farmer said that there is no need to drain the Beheshtabad tunnel or the Persian Gulf, but rather just to end the practice of illegal pumping.

A local official, Hesam Nazari said: “The Ben-Brojen Plan, which incorporated providing a huge water supply to large industrial factories and using the water for other areas and many decisions that resulted from mismanagement has made the people angry.”

As the crisis deepens, Mehr is warning of the danger posed to the entire system by these protests, saying that “the wound of the Zayanderud river has reopened following the drought” because farmers have not been able to cultivate their crops since October and the provincial officials have failed to address any of their concerns regarding livelihood issues and water rights.

Mehr wrote: “The silence, recklessness, and indifference of the government to save the challenging Zayanderud have frustrated the most oppressed people that are making their living from farming. Wrong policies are now exacerbating the social, economic, and environmental consequences.”

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