Iran’s Many Environmental Crises Force Residents to Migrate to Urban Areas

The southwestern Iranian city of Abadan, located in the oil-rich province of Khuzestan was a major port and oil

By INU Staff

INU - The southwestern Iranian city of Abadan, located in the oil-rich province of Khuzestan was a major port and oil refining center prior to the 1979 Islamic revolution. During the 8-year war between Iran and Iraq (1980-1988) the city was destroyed and has not fully rebuilt, as yet. Now, according to the president of the Abadan chamber of commerce, Masoud Khayyatzadeh, a high concentrations of salt in the water has shut down the industrial and agricultural sectors and forced some of the residents to emigrate to other cities.

On June 25th, the Iranian regime’s official told ILNA news agency “In the last month, the situation has become so critical that business activities have been directly affected.” He added that investments in Abadan have been discontinued, and many government employees have submitted requests to move to other cities.

Experts explain that the construction of the Gotvand dam on Khuzestan’s Karun river in 2004 resulted in an increase in the salinity of the water because the dam lies on salt beds. Abadan’s water company was forced to ration water for the residents last week.

As well, Khuzestan is also facing dust storms and air pollution in another environmental crisis. Iranian Parliament member, Kazem Nasab Albaji recently announced that many of Khuzestan residents have emigrated for that reason. According to a city official, in the past year, eighty thousand people, mostly “academic and financial elite” have left Abadan.

Khayyatzadeh told ILNA that in the industrial sector, factories have been forced to quit operations, as the concentration of salt in the city water has reached the same level as sea water. He added, “People do not trust the officials anymore.” He said that the government has promised to transfer fresh water to the province for more than seven years, but so far it has failed to keep its word.

One of Iran’s major oil refineries is located in Abadan. Recently, some operations had to stop due to the water problems.

Khuzestan citizens have been protesting the water crisis, as residents have reportedly been forced to stand in long lines to buy drinking water. In fact, drought and water mismanagement has led to many protests in various parts of Iran in recent months.

In Isfahan Province, farmers have held a number of protests this year; on March 16th, they stormed the Friday Prayer in the city of Isfahan, and mocked the prayer leader.