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As Water Crisis Swells

One of the largest rivers of the country used to flow through the place, where thousands of people staged protests with placards and posters on November 19. The river-bed has virtually dried up because of drought and the negligence of the Government. The Iranians took to the streets in order to bring the River Zayanderud (also spelled as Zayandeh-Rood or Zayanderood) back to the map of Isfahan. It is the largest river of the Iranian Plateau, in the central part of the West Asian country. According to Political Experts, the protests have shaken the Ebrahim Raisi Administration in Tehran.

During the protests, many of the protesters were heard chanting loudly: “Give Isfahan its breath, give our Zayanderud back.” Others called for “Equality and Justice”. Although the farmers staged the protests initially, others joined them later. Under pressure, the Iranian Government has admitted that dryness of the river is directly affecting the livelihoods of local farmers in the province, apart from adversely affecting the environment.

Zayanderud (in the past)

It may be noted that farmers had staged protests in Isfahan over the same issue in the past. However, they failed to put the Government under pressure. This time, the week-long protests attracted the attention of President Raisi. He held a meeting with environmental experts to discuss the Zayanderud issue. Later, Iranian First Vice President Mohammad Mokhber talked to the protesters over phone, assuring them that the Government would soon resolve the issue. However, the First Vice President did not meet the press.

River Zayanderud

The previous Governments in Tehran had made serious attempts to resolve the problem. Even (Iran’s) Supreme Council of Water had approved a nine-point plan, involving reviving a major wetland eight years ago. The Council claimed that it was a sustainable solution. Unfortunately, the plan is yet to be implemented to the full.

A couple walk on the dried-up Zayandeh Rud River in Isfahan, 450km south of Tehran

Iran has been battling drought for decades; however, the situation has deteriorated in last 10 years. According to environmentalists, severe drought has affected almost all the provinces of Iran in recent times. Isfahan is the worst sufferer, as River Zayanderud has dried up completely. The protesters are still not sure whether the Raisi Administration would be able to resolve the crisis, rather, they only know that reviving the water flow in River Zayanderud could save them, as well as Iran.

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