United Nations had designated the year 2009 as ‘Joint Waters, Joint Opportunities’ in an effort to attract world attention to waters shared by countries.
It also observed March 22 each year as ‘World Water Day’ to focus on water-related activities and ensure peace, security, economic growth and development worldwide, Persian monthly Payam-e Niroo wrote.
Natural resources, such as water, have played major role in the Middle East. Huge oil and gas reserves and severe shortage of drinking water cause regional and trans-regional tensions.
According to World Bank, per capita renewable water reserves in Middle East will decline to 667 cubic meters per year in 2025 from 3,430 cubic meters in 1960.
This is due to excessive consumption of water resources, extent of deserts and growth in population.
Iran, which is situated in a dry and semi-arid region of the world, has sought to increase regional cooperation and convergence in tapping shared water resources.
Such measures can be seen in 40-year joint exploitation of Aras Dam between Iran and Azerbaijan Republic or post-1979 Doosti Dam between Iran and Turkmenistan.
Iran has joined the ranks of countries with advanced technology in the construction of hydroelectric installations by implementing infrastructural installation and indigenizing dam construction after the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
Iran and the former Soviet Union inked an agreement in 1963 to construct Aras Water Reservoir as well as Mill and Moghan Diversion Dam.
The contract on joint exploitation of Aras River was inked in 1965. Then, with the completion of the dam project, both nations started to exploit Aras Dam in 1971. Two hydroelectric power plants, with production capacity of 22 megawatt, were launched--one for feeding Iran electricity network and the other for supplying Nakhichevan electricity grid.
In annual meetings, Iran and Azerbaijan compile protocols which are implemented almost all year long.
Over 40 joint sessions have so far been held in Tabriz and Baku in this respect. This indicates the good level of collaboration between Iran and Azerbaijan in regional development.
Doosti Dam was launched as the first border dam constructed after the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
It is a proof of Iran’s expertise in dam construction. It is a message to the country’s neighbors that water should be employed for co-existence, peace and tranquility.
Construction of Doosti Dam on Tajan (Harir-Roud) River, is a symbol of successful cooperation between Ashgabat and Tehran in joint exploitation of water resources.
Strong will of Iran and Turkmenistan in the construction of Doosti Dam and drawing up a legal system for joint exploitation is a good example of positive role of water resources in regional convergence and collaboration. Doosti Dam is considered as a symbol of deep mutual ties in policies of the two nations.
15,000kms of Road, Rail Projects Underway
About 15,320 km of roads, highways and railroads are expected to become operational in the current Iranian year (started March 21), said the road and urban construction minister.
Inaugurating the Rey-Varamin Highway in Tehran province on Wednesday, Ali Nikzad said that about 40 percent of the country’s economic growth pertain to housing and road sector. He added the ministry plans to facilitate access from the country’s western region to the east, north to south by constructing railroads and roads, Fars News Agency reported.
“By laying 30 km of railroad between Shalamcheh in Iran and Basreh in Iraq, we will also be able to connect Iran to Iraq and Syria,” he said.
The minister added by establishing an 80-kilometer railroad from Gorgan, the capital of Golestan province to Incheborun in Turkmenistan, Iran will be linked to Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan and Russia.
“If Kermanshah is linked by rail to Khosravi border, we will be linked to Iraq,” he said.
Connecting Chabahar in Sistan-Baluchestan province to Sarakhs in Khorasan Razavi province will ease transit of goods and passengers, he stated.
About 28,000 people were killed in road accidents in the year to March 2004 and this figure dropped to 23,200 in the year to March 2011, he recalled.
“The number of road casualties dropped by 12.5 percent in the first six months of the current year (started March 21) compared to the figure for the same period last year,” he noted.
Nikzad said that 1,000 km of railroad, 260 km of highway, 4,000 km of major roads, 7,500 km of rural roads and 26 airport projects are expected to become operational by next March.
The minister noted that 2,500 buses and 1,500 minibuses are expected to be added to the transport fleet this year.
Bandar Abbas-Almaty Rail Link
Meanwhile, according to a Wednesday report by Islamic Republic of Iran Railways, Bandar Abbas-Almaty container train service connecting Central Asia to the Persian Gulf and Southeast Asia will be launched on October 17.
This train will link Almaty, Kazakhstan’s former capital to Bandar Abbas in Hormozgan province via Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan and onward to the Persian Gulf littoral states and Southeast Asian countries.
Bandar Abbas-Almaty railroad extends for 3,756 kilometers which will be covered in 150 hours and 12 minutes.
Earlier last week, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, in a phone conversation with his Turkmen counterpart Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov, discussed the construction of a key railroad linking Iran to Kazakhstan via Turkmenistan.
Ahmadinejad described the railway a ‘historical and important project for the region’, and underlined the need for removing the hurdles to the implementation of the project, Fars News Agency reported.
The Turkmen president also hoped that the railroad will become operational in the near future.
The railroad project which is to connect Central Asia to the Persian Gulf is considered as the Silk Road of the 21st Century.
In the same period, a Chinese company, CMIC signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Iran’s Ministry of Roads and Transportation to construct Mashhad-Bojnord-Gorgan railroad, IRIB reported.
On completion, the 655-kilometer railroad will link Mashhad to Gorgan via Bojnord and will complete the rail network in the northeast of the country.
Assalouyeh Petchem Production at Over 10m Tons
In the first half of the current year (started March 21), over 10.757 million tons of petrochemical products were produced in petrochemical complexes in Assalouyeh.
In the said time span, Nouri, Pras and Maroun petrochemical complexes produced 1.958 million tons, 1.897 million tons and 1.676 million tons of petrochemicals, respectively.
Furthermore, the output from Pardis, Zagros and Jam petrochemical complexes stood at 1.595 million tons, 1.469 million tons and 1.102 million tons of petrochemical products in the said order.
This is while in the above-mentioned period, Arya Sasol Polymer Company produced 682,000 tons of petrochemicals and Morvarid as well as Mehr petrochemical complexes produced 181,742 tons and 166,118 tons of different petrochemical products, respectively, reported IRNA.
Currently the total installed production capacity of petrochemical units in Assalouyeh is about 22 million tons per year. It is projected that the figure will reach 27 million tons per year by the end of the Fifth Five-Year Economic Development Plan (2010-2015).
Moreover, the olefin 11 project (Kavian Petrochemical Complex) and Butane 1 project of Jam Petrochemical Complex will become operational this year.
Kavian Petrochemical Complex is under construction in two phases. It has the annual production capacity of over two million tons of ethylene and it supplies the feedstock for West Ethylene Pipeline and Lorestan, Kurdestan, Mahabad, Hamedan and Kermanshah petrochemical units.
Private Sector To Construct 14 Drilling Masts
Private sector is to construct 14 offshore drilling masts in an effort to indigenize their construction.
Announcing this, deputy oil minister, Mohsen Khojasteh-Mehr said the oil industry’s operations in the upstream sector and need for drilling masts (onshore and offshore) have created potentials for their construction in the country, IRNA reported.
The plan, which is under study, intends to prepare the grounds for involvement of domestic companies and contractors in the upstream sector, Khojasteh-Mehr pointed out.
He said the project will cost $2.2 billion, adding the Oil Ministry will also assist the private sector.
Khojesteh-Mehr explained joint sessions are held between ministries of oil, and industry, mine and commerce. Ministry of Industry, Mine and Commerce is in charge of approving the technical aspects of constructing drilling masts, while the Oil Ministry supervises the project. The official continued that about nine companies have applied for construction of drilling masts.
In addition to attaining self-sufficiency in supplying drilling masts, the implementation of the project will neutralize sanctions, prevent the outflow of hard currency, reduce costs, generate new jobs and increase the involvement of domestic contractors in the oil industry, he concluded.
FAO Cooperation Underlined
Agricultural Research, Education and Extension Organization (AREEO) has prioritized to promote cooperation with United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
Speaking in a meeting with FAO representative in Tehran, Nooreddin Moulana, the head of AREEO, Jahangir Porhemmat said the scientific-educational ties with FAO should be raised as part of regional cooperation, IRNA reported.
The FAO representative underlined that his organization will provide technical assistance to Iran.
8,000 Research Projects
Porhemmat continued that close to 8,000 research projects are underway in the agriculture sector. The projects seek to remove problems in the agricultural sector including farming, horticulture, livestock, fisheries and watershed projects, he pointed out.
The aims also include reducing the use of fertilizers and pesticides as well as taking advantage of water resources and introducing new agricultural varieties, he concluded.
Nahavand’s Cement Company with the capacity to produce 3,300 tons of Portland cement per day will go on stream on October 7.