0933 GMT February 19, 2018
According to the latest data released by the Environmental Protection Organization of the province, the air quality index in Ahvaz on Tuesday showed 9,000 micrograms per cubic meter, indicating that the dust pollution is 60 times higher than the permitted level, Tasnim News Agency reported.
The air pollution in Mahshahr, Khuzestan, has also reached 2,101 micrograms per cubic meter, according to the data.
Last month, Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei authorized the Iranian administration to withdraw a sum of $150 million from the National Development Fund for projects to tackle the heavy dust pollution in the country.
The order came as President Hassan Rouhani on January 22 ordered Agriculture Minister Mahmoud Hojjati and the head of Iran’s Environmental Protection Organization (IEPO) Isa Kalantari to pay a visit to the southwestern parts of the country to address the heavy dust pollution in the areas.
Iran has blamed Turkey’s dam building projects for triggering increasing desertification in the Middle East.
As part of its Southeastern Anatolia Project known as GAP, Turkey has built over 20 dams on the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, which also run across Syria, Iraq and Iran.
The project has reportedly reduced water flow in the rivers’ basin by 34 percent and caused 94 percent of Mesopotamia to dry up, kicking up dust storms in Syria and Iraq which head to Iran and cripple life in its southwestern and western provinces.
The project has worsened the problem of dust storms in the region.
Iran says dust storms originate in Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Jordan and Syria, and has urged their authorities to address the problem.