Iran Has World's Second Worst Levels Of Land Subsidence

Sunday, 04/07/2024

Iran is facing a crisis as land subsidence rates soar to alarming levels, ranking the country second globally, just behind India, according to an official at the Ministry of Roads and Urban Development.

Ali Beitollahi, Head of the Seismology and Vulnerability Section at the Center for Research of Roads and Urban Development, said that Iran's situation is exacerbated by the extensive nature of subsidence areas across many provinces, with the number of affected regions surpassing other countries with similarly high rates. In Kerman province alone, subsidence rates reach 40 centimeters annually.

Furthermore, the report indicates that in areas south of Alborz province and near Tehran, the subsidence rate exceeds 30 centimeters per year, posing a threat to infrastructure and urban development.

Even in the northern provinces of Iran, land subsidence has become critical, according to Beitollahi. He noted that Golestan province faces subsidence rates exceeding 22 percent, primarily due to “unauthorized groundwater withdrawals,” especially rampant in regions where cotton and corn cultivation prevail.

Beitollahi attributed the increase in subsidence rates partly to “extensive well drilling practices, which have led to a decline in groundwater levels across the country.”

Last year, reports surfaced suggesting that the Iranian government had intentionally concealed information about the worsening subsidence crisis.

Last month, experts in Iran warned the current land subsidence situation in Iran is “critical", claiming it puts the lives of more than 39 million people at risk.

Dam construction, climate change, inefficient water consumption by agriculture and industries, and the use of underground aquifers as sources for illegal agricultural water extraction wells have all contributed to the problem which now puts the lives of millions of Iranians at risk.

Ali Beitollahi, heading the disaster task force on the issue at the Road, Housing and Urban Development Research Center of Iran, said the approximate area of subsidence zones in the country is now 18.5 million hectares, almost 11% of Iran's total area, and says if action is not taken, it endangers the lives of nearly 49% of Iran’s population. He said 380 and 9,200 villages are at risk of land subsidence.

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