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50pc water declined in Harirud River basin: New study

50pc water declined in Harirud River basin: New study

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Feb 21, 2019 - 20:43

KABULinfo-icon (Pajhwok): An investigation by the Afghan Institute for Strategic Studies (AISS) shows water in the Harirud River has decreased by 50 percent and improper use of the natural source by Iran has significantly affected the river basin’s ground water.

The study comes as a book ‘Harirod: A look at a flowing basin’ authored by Sayed Ali Hussaini, a member of AISS, hit the stalls.

Harirud River, which originates in the Baba mountain range, follows a relatively straight course to the west and is shared by three countries Afghanistaninfo-icon, Iran and Turkmenistan. The river passes near Firozkoh and Herat cities and then enters Turkmenistan and finally drains in the Karakum Desert.

Hussaini, talking about the results of his study in Kabul, said the investigation included technical and legal analysis and study of books, documents, internet sites and satellite images.

“When we looked at satellite images we saw our neighboring countries Iran and Turkmenistan have significantly developed their agricultureinfo-icon and they wastefully used the river’s water,” he said.

 “The next issue is controlling the water, satellite images show around 27 dams are active in the Karakum Desert Qaraqum basin in Iran, another dam is under construction and a survey for 11 more dams is underway, unlike in Afghanistan where only one dam is built, one is under construction and two are under survey,” Hussaini added.

He said 50 percent of the Harirud River water had declined. “Wasteful use of water by Iran using deep wells has seriously affected our ground water,” he said, asking the government to take up the issue with Iranian authorities.

Legal part

Hussaini said regulations and conventions explain how a border water and cross border water should be used, but these regulations were not necessarily followed by countries but joined each other according to their policies.

“One important option in these international regulations is the historic usage of water, it means anyone who is historically using the water of a river has the right to be prioritized, accurate information of Harirud River shows its main user was Herat desert and Iran and Turkmenistan only received floods and a limited water,” he added.

He said another issue in legal area was that water had now become a national security issue. “The water issue is directly related to national security in today’s worldinfo-icon,” he added.

“Lack of water in a region cause problems in people’s lives and gradually lead to discomfort and insecurity, some people believe water is more important than foreign assaults,” he said.

Hussaini saw best solution to water disputes was negotiations but a country entering such talks should prepare a professional and politically-equipped team which should also have accurate figures and only water should be the subject of discussion.

“It is not justice when residents of Herat lack enough water for drinking while the neighboring country grows cotton, vegetables and others and even export them to other countries,” he said.

Sultan Mahmod Mahmodi, advisor to the Ministry of Water and Energy, appreciated the survey and said the ministry would use statistics of the study.

He said the water level in Harirod basin had decreased from 1.6 billion cubic meters to 1,373 million cubic meters due to wasteful usage of ground water by Iran.

Mahmodi expressed concern over the shortage of ground water in the country and said increase in population, climate changes and flood were causes behind the declined ground water.

mds/ma

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