An Iranian environment official said that most of Iran’s environmental degradation had taken place in the past 25 years and that no region in Iran had been left unscathed.
The Marine Environment and Wetlands deputy director of Iran’s Department of Environment said that the damages occurred following the implementation of “development programs” in 1994.
“If one investigates the destruction of the marine environment from northern Iran and the Caspian Sea, the gradual and steady disappearance of the coastline is evident in both Mazandaran and Gilan provinces, to the extent that one cannot even find 100 meters of shore area,” Ahmad Reza Lahijanzadeh said in a meeting held in the southern province of Hormozagan.
The environment officials said that the country was also faced with the “devastating destruction of the Caspian Hyrcanian mixed forests in Alborz”.
Lahijanzadeh said that Iran’s aquifers were on the verge of drying out in comments carried by the state-run Mehr news agency.
“In the plain and plateaus of Iran and areas such as Semnan and Fars, about 70% of the plains have been declared as ‘forbidden water plains’ due to the reduction of groundwater,” he added.
Lahijanzadeh said that the condition of aquifers of the southwestern province of Fars, once one of the top producers of wheat in Iran, was so poor “that it had become irreversible”.
He also referred to the southwestern province of Khuzestan as a symbol of the country’s unstable development, saying that despite abundant water, fertile soil and oil and gas resources that could have nourished all of Iran, “we have lost lagoons and rivers in the most water rich province in the country, and as a result, phenomena such as dust storms have for years, crippled Khuzestan.”
The environment official also pointed to the extensive and destructive impacts of the petrochemical industry on the fishing industry in the city of Mahshahr in southern Iran.
“The development of the petrochemical industry in Mahshahr has reduced the city’s fishing capacity to about 900 tons,” he said adding that they had sacrificed a long term gain for a short term one.
Lahijanzadeh called the southern city of Asaluyeh, “Iran’s most polluted city”, saying that it was in fact the most polluted area in the region and that the area was witnessing the widespread slaughter of aquatic species and reduced environmental diversity.
The president of the Iranian regime, Hassan Rouhani, recently ordered a thorough review of Asaluyeh’s environmental status, but according to the deputy director of marine environment and wetlands, the damage was irreversible.
Asaluyeh, located in Bushehr Province is believed to house one of the largest oil, gas and petrochemical projects in Iran.
Environmentalists have repeatedly warned the government about the lack of environmental standards in the construction of power plants and petrochemical plants and their detrimental effects on the people of the surrounding areas.
Also, the concentration of heavy industrial activities on the shores of Bushehr province and the lack wastewater treatment facilities is a major threat to the Persian Gulf environment.
Due to warnings on the critical state of Iran’s environment and the utter disregard of regime officials for the environment, the Supreme Council for Environmental Protection held a meeting in July chaired by Rouhani.
One of the most controversial clauses of the meeting’s closing resolution was the unaccountability of the government for some areas of the country that have suffered from serious environmental damages.
A July report by the Parliamentary Research Center, titled the Comparative Environmental Economics Review from a Legislative and Regulatory Perspective, stated that neglecting the environment causes the economy at least $8.5 billion in annual financial losses.
According to the report, pollution and Iran’s environmental degradation, in addition to causing economic loss, was a threat to the health of Iranian citizens, which, along with social and personal problems, such as exacerbating immigration, would impose heavy costs on the society.