Since the 1979 revolution, Iran has invested a large amount of money into the construction of dams. In addition to power generation, dams were considered an important tool for water management during times of hardship. However, in recent years, dams have been at the crux of one of the country’s most serious environmental crises.
While conducting research on water mismanagement, Small Media -- a London-based organization supporting civil society and human rights in the Middle East -- discovered that the data for hundreds of Iranian dams is missing.
Based on some estimates, Iran has invested more into dams than any other field save for petrochemical projects. During the presidency of Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani (1989-1997), a major dam was inaugurated every 45 days, which earned him the title of “Construction Commander.”
Iran has built 600 dams over the past three decades, with an average of 20 a year. Its aggressive dam-building policy made the country the world’s third-biggest dam builder after China and Japan.
But Iran has faced a severe drought in recent years, and the dams add to the environmental damage caused by the drought.
When President Hassan Rouhani took office in 2013, he called for a halt to the dam projects. Environmental experts maintain that in order to see some concrete, positive effects on the environment, 500 Iranian dams should be decommissioned.
However, evaluating the current status of dams is a difficult task given the lack of transparency ...
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