Reza Ardakanian underlined it was opportunists who spread the rumour that Tehran is going to transfer water to other countries including Kuwait.
“The [Iranian] Energy Ministry has no plans, decision or projects to transfer, sell and export even a single drop of this territory’s water to any country beyond the Iranian borders, and the issue of [Iran] transferring water to Kuwait was put forward in the early 1980s by those who benefitted from the implementation of a project to take the country’s water to Kuwait,” said the minister.
“At that time, the key opponent of the implementation of this project was the deputy energy minister for water affairs, who has now become Energy Minister, which is bad news for middlemen. With the authority that he has now, he will seriously prevent this from happening,” the minister noted, alluding to himself.
“These people will, every day, make new rumours in different areas related to water in order to secure their interests as they [falsely] claimed that the Ghadir water pipeline project was meant to transfer water abroad, provoking locals,” he said.
The minister’s remarks followed rumours that Iran was to export water to Kuwait. The rumour has been around for almost two decades now, and the rumour is denied every time it begins flying around.
This time, the rumour resurfaced when the people of Khuzestan province in southern Iran began complaining about the quality of the drinking water they used. Locals were dismayed at the bad quality of the tap water. Officials said the impurities were because of low water levels at the Karoon river, and promised to solve the problem in a matter of days. However, a wave of rumours hit social networking sites, suggesting that Iran is exporting water to Kuwait at a time when Khuzestan and Karoon are suffering from water shortage.
The rumour flying around by word of mouth over the phone and on social media says that “under a 30-year contract to transfer potable water from the Karoon river to Kuwait signed in 2003, Iran is obliged to export to Kuwait 900,000 cubic metres of water a day or 10,000 litres of water per second, which is one of the most important reasons behind low water levels and the low quality of water at Karoon river.”
This comes as water authorities have vehemently denied the rumour.
A senior water official at the Energy Ministry says talk of an agreement on the transfer of water to Kuwait came to the fore during one of the former Iranian administrations.
“As far as I know, the memorandum of understanding has never been implemented, and given that exporting water to neighbouring countries requires approval by Parliament, no such ratification exists at the moment,” said Hedayat Fahmi.
“If a person or organization has documents suggesting water has been transferred abroad, this is an illegal act and relevant authorities need to deal with the issue according to the law,” said Fahmi.
He said the Energy Ministry has no plans to transfer water to neighbouring countries.
“The Energy Ministry’s most important objective is to provide water for Iranian citizens, and will do whatever it takes to discharge this responsibility,” the official noted.
It is noteworthy that an urgent project has got underway in Khuzestan province to construct a temporary embankment dam to provide potable water for residents until a project already underway to transfer drinking water is completed.
Based on reports, the quality of water in Khuzestan province has been deteriorating over the past two days, making it difficult for the people to quench their thirst in temperatures exceeding 50 degrees centigrade.