Continuing rain and snow in northern Iran has led to devastating floods in the provinces of Mazandaran and Golestan.
Reports from state-run media indicate that roads leading to 70 villages in Golestan and more than 200 in Mazandaran have been flooded. Twenty villages in Golestan have been evacuated.
According to Mojtaba Jamali, the Director General of the Golestan Province Crisis Management, the town of Agh Ghola in Golestan was facing the most severe problems.
More than 10 villages were flooded in the town.
According to reports, the victims of the flood need urgent help as their food supplies run out.
According to Jamali, two people died after a landslide in Golestan in the past few days.
According to the Mazandaran Crisis Management Department, the floods affected about 200 villages in the province, causing damage to 1,500 homes in urban areas and 30 to 50% of homes in rural areas. In addition, dozens of communication bridges were destroyed or damaged in neighborhoods and villages.
As a result of heavy snowfall, the water, electricity and gas of more than 200 villages in the province’s highlands, notably in eastern Mazandaran, including in Neka and Behshahr were cut off.
A number of cities including Babol, the most populated city in Mazandaran, are facing a lack of drinking water. Water is brought to the city via tankers.
There are forecasts of more heavy rainfall for Sunday.
Iranians flock to northern Iran for Nowruz holidays due to the sub-tropical climate known for its lush greenery and forests.
According to the state-run Khabar Online Website, Iran floods have significantly increased in the past year with 552 cases taking place in the course of just 4 years.
Last October Iran floods which hit the three provinces of Northern Khorasan, Mazandaran and Gilan provinces killed eight people.
Man-made causes of Iran’s floods
The reason behind Iran’s increasing floods is the deforestation of more 30% of the northern forests, the destruction of vegetation in pastures and fields, the lack of levees, and flood walls in flood areas, the lack of river dredging, the unnatural gathering of heavy sediments behind dams, broken dams, the unconventional building of villas in agricultural land which is mostly carried out by those affiliated with the government, and the construction on river banks and river areas.
Deforestation is carried out in full by the government with “33% of forests in Iran having been destroyed”, according to state-run media. That means that the 18 million of hectares of Iran’s forests have shrunk to just 12.4 million.
Salamat News state-run website also reported a few years ago that the main cause of floods was due to environmental damages.
“Floods are not only the result of natural disasters. It is rather the result of environmental destruction. They are the result of the changes made to natural lands, deforestation and the destruction of native vegetation. Reducing vegetation and changes in land will cause runoff from precipitation to increase by more than 30 times in some places,” the website wrote.
It’s obvious that these environmental damages are systematic and the result of government mismanagement.
Floods like other natural disasters are predictable and preventable and when it takes place, is controllable with the right infrastructure, necessary budget and technical management. But at the current rate, Iran will witness more destructive floods in the future.
Last October, Iranian state-run media reported that half of Iran’s northern forests were razed in the span of 40 years.
According to a member of the Iran Environment and Natural Resources Network Coordination Council, deforestation has destroyed half of Iran’s northern forests.
“According to the data of The Natural Resources and Forestry Organization, during the past 40 years, the area of the northern forests has gone from 3,600,000 to 1,800,000 hectares,” Massoud Molana said.
“When half of the forests are gone, the rain is no longer a blessing and turn into floods,” he added.
The environment official said that rain had decreased by 20 percent in the past 50 years while floods had increased by 50 percent.
“Rain is considered a disaster in northern Iran these days because trees have been cut down under the excuse of development, building schools, industry, roads and villas, and therefore, deforestation means flood water is directed better,” Molana added in comments carried by ISNA state-run News Agency.
Tabnak state-run website also covered the staggering report on the speed of deforestation of Iran’s northern forests.
“These are very large numbers and when in regard to a semi-arid country, it will lead to a huge catastrophe; We are apparently not able to understand the full scale catastrophe that our country faces, for if we did, we would not continue the spread (of deforestation) at full speed,” the website wrote.
“We are talking about the process of deforestation, which is so extensive that it can be seen,” wrote another Iranian website.
“The increase of construction on a day to day basis can be seen clearly by those who take various trips to the north of our country; the tragedy that had struck the coastal strip is now taking place at double the speed in the forest areas,” Vosaat website added.