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New water resources strategy lands in parliament

New water resources strategy lands in parliament

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Jul 17, 2017 - 18:51

KABULinfo-icon (Pajhwok): The energy and water minister on Monday presented a new strategy on the country’s water resources to the Wolesi Jirgainfo-icon or lower house of the parliament for approval.

Eng. Ali Ahmad Usmani, the minister said, his ministry’s studies showed that environmental problems had resulted from the shortage of water in Afghanistaninfo-icon and as well as Iran’s poor management of water resources.

Testifying before a hearing session of the Wolesi Jirga, Usman said the new water resources strategy had three orientations including availability of water, management of water and diplomacy.

All challenges towards construction of dams and environmentinfo-icon in Afghanistan and regional countries including Iran and Pakistaninfo-icon had been accurately studied in the new strategy, he said.

The new water resources strategy suggested construction of 40 dams across the country, Usmani added.

“The Ministry of Energy and Water is faced with serious procurement problems, our water resources may be lost if this problem is not resolved, no investor in such a situation shows interest in construction of dams,” he said.

The minister said he had no authority in executive affairs and this gave birth to challenges the water resources faced.

Water diplomacy has also been prepared in the new strategy in light of environmental studies in Afghanistan and neighboring countries, Usmani said.

The minister said Afghanistan shared one basin with Pakistan and four with Iran. “Our neighbors say they are faced with a lack of water, but it is also the fact that Afghanistan is too faced with the same problem, improper usage of water by our neighbors also create environmental issues in our country,” he added.

“Iran has six basins with 600 dams built on them, tens of its dams are built on shared basins with Afghanistan, Iran has completely blocked the flow of water into Afghanistan from shared basins by building large number of dams on them, while Afghanistan has built only Salma Dam on Harirod Basin,” he said.

He said studies of his ministry showed environmental problems in Iran and Afghanistan resulted from shortage of water and unhealthy management of water by the Iranian government.

Usmani said he was ready to discuss the issues with Iranian authorities. An active diplomacy for solving water related problems with neighboring countries was the need of the hour, he said.

He continued the country’s water resources should be controlled and red lines cleared with neighboring countries before discussing the problems.

Wolesi Jirga speaker Abdul Rauf Ibrahimi said: “We support the demands of the Ministry of Energy and Water for protection of national interests and national water management.”

The water management issue is raised after Iranian president’s recent remarks on Afghanistan’s efforts to build dams.

Iranian leader Hassan Rouhani has criticized construction of several dams in Afghanistan like Salma dam, Kamal Khan Dam and Kajaki dam and said his government could not stay silent on construction of the dams because the structures blocked water flow in rivers.

However, the Afghan government maintains water issues between Afghanistan and Iran have been solved based on agreements of international principles and Afghanistan uses its own rights.

mds/ma

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