Exclusive- Ahwazi Palm Groves Die amid Water Shortage Protests
Ahwaz is a clear example of environmental and social disasters taking place in Iran as a result of river diverting projects to the country’s central provinces.
Most provinces facing serious water shortages are populated with non-Persian ethnicities. Three decades ago, two-thirds of Iran's fresh water was found in the country’s southwest, which is an Arab majority area.
Over the past 30 years, Ahwaz has been affected by the construction of 67 large and small dams and 6 water transfer projects.
The registered volume of Ahwaz reservoirs reached more than 45 billion cubic meters of water.
Water transfer projects were designed to transport 8 billion cubic meters per year to all central provinces of Iran and Qom.
“Most dams and water-transfer projects in Ahwaz have not received an environmental license as a prerequisite for the implementation of such projects, but they are continuing despite these conditions,” says an environmental expert.
Sustaining heavy impact from dam projects, Ahwaz lands, which once surprised travelers with their rich green palm groves, became home to the largest dust storms in Iran. Over the past two decades, millions of palm trees have died because of water shortage.
According to official sources, more than 4 million palm trees in Ahwaz are dying today, the fishing industry saw a 30 percent drop and continues to decline.
Such is the case for hundreds of thousands of farms and orchards that once enjoyed golden fertility and now are left arid.
All of which caused the rise of “shocking” crises in the city.
The Ahwazi Doctors Association also began warning against a breakout of respiratory diseases and cancer.
According to some reports, the rate of cancer in the city of Ahwaz is four times greater than that of other regions in Iran.
The city witnesses persistent protests demanding to roll back projects that are environmentally detrimental.
Speaking under the condition of anonymity, the environmental expert speculated of Iranian parties conspiring to kill Ahwazi nature. He labeled it a ‘large-scale ethnic cleansing project.’