Plan to build a navigable canal from the Caspian Sea to the Persian Gulf has been discussed for over a century - from the Qajar dynasty, and to this day. To what extent is it possible to implement this plan?
Iran will soon launch a plan to build a navigable canal from the Caspian Sea to the Persian Gulf, Fars news agency quoted Minister of Energy of Iran Majid Namjou as saying.
The plan also provides for transfer of 500 million cubic meters of water from the Caspian Sea to the central regions suffering from drought, and its use in agriculture and industrial applications.
The project requires funds in the amount of $7 billion, the minister said.
Tehran still says nothing about the effectiveness of the project from an economic point of view, about the location of the Caspian Sea 29 meters below sea level, about the location of Alborz mountain range in the country's north, as well as the location of the central regions, in particular, deserts of Kavir and Lut in the lowlands, as well as other technical issues.
Iranian environmentalist, Professor Esmail Kahrom told Trend that a canal that would connect the Caspian Sea to the Persian Gulf is a "dream". He believes this project is unrealistic. "One liter of water of the Caspian Sea contains 13 grams of salt, use of such water for agricultural purposes is not possible, it is also disadvantageous to desalinate it," said Kahrom.
The environmentalist believes the Iranian province of Simnan and central regions have no land suitable for agriculture, the soil is mostly sand and clay.
"I do not believe in such a project," the head of research and information center "Kaspiy", Doctor of Geographical Sciences Chingiz Ismayilov told Trend. He said that first of all, consent of the littoral countries is required for such a mega-project. Along with an obstacle in the north in Alborz mountain range, these regions are densely populated and to carry out construction work it's necessary to evacuate population and pay compensation. Distance from the north to the south of Iran is 2,000 kilometers, a canal of such length is impossible to be built from concrete, in addition, there may floods along the entire length of the canal in the regions".
In his view, the difference in altitude of regions in the north and south of Iran, including the low level of the central regions and territories in the south of the Caspian Sea (the northern part of the Alborz mountain range), will lead to flooding, which will lead to the intensity of earthquakes.
"In areas where flooding occurs, usually 300 small earthquakes are recorded a year. Northern regions of Iran are considered seismic, and if there are floods, earthquakes there will be intense," the Azerbaijani expert believes.
According to information disseminated on Tuesday by the Iranian ISNA news agency, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) will begin this month the plan for desalination of waters of the Caspian Sea, which will cost $2 billion. This plan is part of a plan for connecting the Caspian Sea to the Persian Gulf.
"Given that Iran has not implemented a plan for the transfer of water of the Caspian Sea to Lake Urmia in connection with its drying up, I believe that the plan of building a Caspian Sea-Persian Gulf canal was purely political in nature and is not more than the mere words," said Kahrom.
He noted that former Iranian President Hashemi Rafsanjani, too, once wanted to connect the Caspian Sea to the Persian Gulf, but this plan was never implemented and will not be implemented.
Ismayilov believes that a navigable canal should be of a width exceeding 100 meters and a minimum depth of five meters. Such canal needs huge amount of water, and, at least 10 percent of the water of the Volga River, which provides 85 percent of the water of the Caspian Sea. Without the permission of the Caspian states, transporting such a quantity of water from the Caspian Sea is not possible.
Dalga Khatinoglu /Trend