London, 25 Feb – Protesting Iranian president Rouhani’s visit to Ahvaz, thousands of people in the city gathered in front of the governor’s place on Thursday morning February 23, demanding that projects related to rerouting water of Karun and other rivers to areas in other provinces, building dams, and draining wetlands be stopped and that water and power outages caused by dust as well as air pollution disaster in the province be immediately addressed.
Also a number of environmentalists and workers gathered in Ahvaz airport and protested against environmental disaster, critical unemployment situation, and non-payment of workers’ wages.
During Rouhani’s visit to one of the so-called dust centers in the city of Karun on Thursday evening, a number of residents gathered on the way of Presidential motorcade. A representative of the demonstrators said that “this region, particularly the villages, have a lot of problems”. “Despite being an oilfield, unemployment rate here is too high, with oil being of no use to us.”, he added.
Pointing to the disruption of agricultural activities due to water scarcity, the demonstrators’ representative demanded that the region be provided with enough water so that unemployment problem be resolved in part.
Despite all this, Rouhani refused directly talking to people. Instead, the Intelligence Minister ‘Mahmoud Alavi’ told the correspondents that there’s no specific security problem in Khuzestan, according to state-run IRNA news agency.
Khuzestan province has been afflicted by the dust problem from 2001, while experts believe that 35 percent of the dust in the province comes from domestic sources.
The area of active dust centers in Khuzestan is about 350 thousand hectares, according to studies, which reaches more than 800 thousand if wind erosion sites and deserts are also included. Meanwhile, 30 thousand hectares of these centers located in Hawr al-Azim Marshes in eastern Ahvaz are regarded as super critical.