Iran is the richest country in the world in terms of natural gas reserves and the third richest in oil reserves, according to the Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF), with most of the reserves being in the southern Khuzestan province. Khuzestan also has seven rivers, including Karun, one of the country’s biggest, and five major dams.
Given the wealth of natural resources and water, why have so many people there been suffering from a lack of potable water over the past few years?
Back in August, MP Mojtaba Yousefi advised that 800 villages in Khuzestan have no access to safe drinking water on a regular basis and that there was not yet the budget to fix the dire situation. Meanwhile, Khuzna news agency reports that 700 villages lack running water and have to rely on tankers.
And the situation gets worse still.
“Potable water quality in the suburbs is less than 50 percent. Our concern is not limited to the microbial contamination of the water. The water lacks chlorine or does not contain any chlorine. If the Water Organization is busy with infrastructural issues, they can at least control the amount of the chlorine,” said Dr. Mehran Ahmadi Balutaki, the head of West Ahvaz Health Centre, which is inside the provincial capital, on December 11
That’s right. In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic and a flood crisis, which the government has failed to confront, the people of Khuzestan are also being subjected to a lack of water purification. In Ahvaz, the potable water was mixed with sewage, according to Gholamreza Qasemian, the head of Meshkat seminary, on December 7, creating a real danger to those forced to drink it.
“It is not tolerable to see the mixing of water and sewage where 200 billion cubic meters of water is stored behind its dams. Allocation of 3 percent of oil income to Khuzestan province is a considerable budget. An investigation is needed into why a significant amount of this budget has not been paid,” said Hassan Darwishian, the head of the Inspection Organization of Iran, on December 8.
He further stated that this budget would be able to solve many problems in Khuzestan if it were actually paid.
The government claims to have spent more than $47 million in the Khuzestan cities of Mahshar and Khomeini Port but due to systematic corruption, it is unclear exactly how this has been spent. Much of Iran’s wealth is spent by the ayatollahs on a nuclear program, ballistic missiles, the export of terrorism, and domestic repression.
In June, the people of Khuzestan protested the water crisis again and the authorities cracked down violently.