Construction of a petrochemical plant  has started in Miankaleh next to a nature reserve

Construction of a petrochemical plant has started in Miankaleh next to a nature reserve

Controversy Continues In Iran Over Petrochemical Project In Nature Reserve

4/16/2022

Controversy over an environmentally dangerous petrochemical project continues in Iran as some government officials have defended it despite an earlier ban.

The petrochemical plant in Miankaleh, northern Iran is planned to be built next to a nature reserve, which galvanized opposition by activists and citizens in the past two weeks. President Ebrahim Raisi came out against the project earlier this week and Iran’s Judiciary issued an order to stop construction until further studies.

However, the governor of Mazandaran province and the Friday Prayer Imam of the region strongly defended the project. The governor is appointed by Raisi and the Imam by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. Some hardliners went as far as saying opponents of the project are in essence opponents of the Supreme Leader, thus trying to accuse them of a political crime.

The Speaker of parliament Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf also has backed the project.

In addition, it was alleged in the media that the owner of the petrochemical plant is a super-borrower from government banks, making the whole project politically more controversial. The individual owners of the land and the project remain hidden from public view, as a host of front companies are officially holders of the permit.

Super-borrowers are influential political insiders who borrow huge sums using their influence, often with no intention to pay back.

The government of former president Hassan Rouhani in an apparently hasty move approved the petrochemical project last year and it obtained the oil ministry’s permission in an unusually fast-tracked manner.

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