MP Proposes Swapping Power, Gas for Water With Afghanistan

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C6AEKP Dried riverbed of Zayandeh river with Khaju Bridge in background, Isfahan Iran.

TEHRAN–Iran can buy several million cubic meters of water from Afghanistan in exchange for gas and electricity, a Zabol lawmaker said.

Over the past year, Afghanistan has blocked the flow of water from Hirmand (Helmand) River into the country as a result of which the incoming water volume has plunged to 2 million cubic meters from 150 mcm.

“Afghanistan is responsible for not letting Iran access its   water right. However, besides getting our share of water from Hirmand, we can buy large volumes of water from the Afghans and sell them electricity and gas. We need water and they need gas and electricity,” ICANA quoted Habibollah Dahmardeh as saying.

Gas export infrastructure is almost ready with close to 1,400 km of gas pipelines in place, he added. 

“Iran sells very low amounts of electricity to Afghanistan but by increasing power export we could swap it with water.” 

The eastern neighbor has significantly reduced the volume of water entering Iranian territory in the bordering Sistan-Baluchestan Province by building dams on Hirmand.

According to the Energy Ministry, Iran received an agreed percentage of the river’s water based on a deal signed by the two governments in the past. In 1972, Iran and Afghanistan signed an agreement on sharing Hirmand water resources that was to the detriment of the former as it reduced its water right to as low as 800 million cubic meters, less than 10% of the river’s annual water flow.

Hamoun wetlands in Sistan-Baluchestan are considered a vital resource for the local population including residents in the provincial capital Zahedan. By depriving Iran of its water right from Hirmand, the government in Kabul is making things worse for the already water-stressed regions, turning the wetlands into barren desert.

Suffering from drought for more than a decade, the wetlands are now a source of dust storms that hit the underdeveloped and increasingly parched regions at regular intervals.

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