Over the past month, farmers in Isfahan, central Iran, have staged several large rallies to protest the denial of their water rights from the Zayandehrood River.
One of the reasons for this deplorable situation is the profiteering of companies and organizations affiliated with the government. Such organizations have built the water supply industry without accurate calculation and cut the water of Zayandehrood River by creating many dams.
Clergyman Naqdali, a member of parliament, said in fear of the anger of the deprived farmers: “Today, every day, farmers in large gatherings ask the officials to pay attention to the awkward situation of the Zayandehrood River. Relevant Institutions, Security Institutions, there is not a good situation in Isfahan in terms of livelihood for farmers.” (ICANA, January 19, 2021)
The river that used to be the bustling ornament of Isfahan province for centuries and once a part of the life of the villagers and farmers is now out of water and has become a dry area, and the people and farmers around it are waiting for the water to pass, so that they can irrigate their lands. But this is just a hopeless wish.
Iran Media Warns of Protests Over Crises
The pressure of the government and its institutions on this river is so obvious that for years the state media have been forced to admit it.
State-run news agency Tasnim wrote: “Some 86 percent of Zayandehrood dam is empty and only 14 percent of this vital water source remains in the central plateau of Isfahan. The promises have not been fulfilled and the reopening of the river has been conditioned by rains that do not show a godd face to Isfahan these days.
“Managers, in a behavioral and managerial contradiction, each speak in their own way, and the promise of a constant flow of the Zayandehrood River in Isfahan, as promised by the President in the Eleventh Government, never materialized.” (Tasnim, January 15, 2021)
Establishment of water supply industries and digging of deep wells for many years is the main reason for the drying up of the Zayandehrood River. These industries and wells are often under the control of companies affiliated with the Revolutionary Guards or the government.
Institutions affiliated with the IRGC and the government plunder water, but the people of the region, especially the hardworking farmers of the Central Plateau of Iran, pay the price for water looting.
In one of the farmers’ protests, which was reflected in the state media, the difficulties and complaints of several protesting farmers were as follows:
“All the people here that you see are farmers, their bread comes from agriculture, all their eyes are on their agriculture.
We came many times and protested, no one listens to us, we have a document and are farmers, we have a document that is several hundred years old. Now that we have planted our crops, there is no water.
The governor said ‘plant’, the administrator said ‘plant’, the head of the water organization came and said ‘plant.’ Now we have no water.”
In the last protest of Isfahan farmers, one of them said: “We have the right to water, and we do not want to give up our water. Why did you trample on the right of the Zayandehrood?”
Every day, the government implements a new plan for plundering more and more the water of Zayandehrood. Its latest plan is to target gardeners by destroying water pipes leading to their gardens.
On Saturday, February 6, the government agents in the water department, accompanied by the police force, attacked the village of Morche Khort with heavy machinery and brutally destroyed the wells and pipes up to thousands of trees.
The words of the gardeners are as follows: “Who should pay for the damage to this pipe? The trees in the 121 gardens. Each garden has 120 trees. There are about 30,000 to 40,000 trees, and their pipes have been cut and broken. Let us die, let us become relax, let us get rid of these dishonorable people.”
Apart from the drying up of farmers’ lands due to the abduction of the Zayandehrood River, the lack of water in this river has also had devastating environmental effects on the region.
ISNA on November 28, 2021 in an article entitled, “15 cm, the average annual subsidence rate in the Isfahan-Borkhar plain,” wrote: “Groundwater studies expert of the Office of Basic Studies of Water Resources of Isfahan Regional Water Company, emphasizing that the Zayandehrood River drought, as a source of aquifer nutrition, contributes to the phenomenon of subsidence, said: The average annual subsidence rate in the Isfahan-Borkhar plain is about 7 up to 15 cm estimated per year.”
ISNA continued its report by quoting this government expert, referring to the continuous decline of groundwater in 35 plains in the east of Isfahan and Bakhtiari in the mountainous areas of west of Isfahan, the lack of water and dryness of the Zayandehrood River as the main factors of this situation and wrote:
“On the one hand, with the dryness of the Zayandehrood River, we put pressure on the aquifer that is fed by the river. It causes the phenomenon to subside and continue. On the other hand, due to the fact that the supply of drinking water to the people is a priority, by digging wells and extracting it, we put double pressure on the aquifers, which causes the subsidence and the continuation of this process. Zayandehrood’s drought, as a source of aquifer nutrition, contributes to subsidence.”