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Afghanistan re-opens Hirmand river into Iran


Tehran, Oct 15, IRNA -- Afghanistan has finally re-opened the Hirmand river into Iran after three years, the press reported here Tuesday.

The Persian-language daily 'Iran' quoted an informed official as saying that Afghanistan has just released a 'certain volume of water' into Iran from its Kajaki dam, adding that the flow is progressing toward Iran and will reach the Iranian border next week.

The official said the release followed an agreement between Iran and Afghanistan to the effect during a last month visit by an Afghan delegation to the Islamic Republic.

Iran reported that the flow had already passed Afghanistan's Helmand to enter Nimrouz province, bordering Iran's Sistan and Baluchestan province, adding that it will reach the lower river basin of Iran's Hamoun lake almost next week after covering some 700 kilometers there.

The report also stressed that although the volume of flow is not yet known, it would help solve the crisis inflicting Iran's Sistan and Baluchestan province.

Iran had already warned of an impending human catastrophe in Sistan and Baluchestan if rolling dunes and moving sandstorms, triggered by drying up of the Hamoun lake continued to flood the province.

Sandstorms have drastically buried some 124 villages in the province and have destroyed thousands of acres of farmlands thus forcing the resident to immigrate to major cities to escape the drought and the unemployment.

The sandstorms have also inundated the Hirmand riverbed up to 40 kilometers inside Afghan territory. Besides, a large number of livestock have perished as a result of the destruction of pastures abutting the river's banks.

Furthermore, the drying up of the Hamoun lake and the Hirmand river have also increased the risk of flash floods in the province.

The storms had also increased cases of asthma and eye diseases among the residents.

Under an agreement between the two countries signed in 1973, Afghanistan is obliged to let at least 26 cubic meters per second flow from its dams onto the Hirmand river into Iran. However, the Taliban militia in 1999 turned the taps off completely.

Following the downfall of the Taliban, the Islamic Republic has once again raised the issue with the administration of new Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

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