Iran denies evacuation of 656 villages after complete water cut
Iranian authorities on Sunday, july 8, denied earlier reports over the evacuation of 656 villages in the northeastern Khorassan province following a complete cut in water supplies, state radio reported.
"These reports on the evacuation of villages in our province are false," said Khorassan governor Mohsen Mehralizadeh in a statement carried on state radio. On Friday, the state news agency IRNA announced that officials had begun with the evacuation of 656 villages in Khorassan province.
It quoted Mirza Mohammadi, head of the provincial water and sewage company as saying that "the residents of some 656 villages are in the process of leaving their homes as they have faced absolute water cut." Mohammadi said "water supply to the drought-hit villagers is carried out by tankers."
IRNA gave no further details, nor did it say where the residents are being taken. No local officials were available for comment.
Iran, which is suffering from its fourth consecutive year of drought, began water rationing in several provinces and cities in June, when officials and state media said the situation was "critical".
Shortages are reportedly serious in eight of Iran's 28 provinces, affecting the lives of some 25 million people, and officials have warned nation-wide water rationing could not be avoided if consumers failed to economize the nation's water resources.
Last weekend saw rioting in the central Iranian city of Isfahan over the lack of water, in which protestors attacked government buildings and public property, according to press reports.
Police arrested 44 people after having dispersed the crowd by "firing shots into the air," the government daily Iran said. ― (AFP, Tehran)
© Agence France Presse 2001
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)