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Iran Facing Worst Drought in 30 Years - Officials

TEHRAN, Iran, April 12, 1999 - Iran is facing its worst water shortage in three decades because of insufficient rainfall with the problem mainly threatening agricultural development, the official IRNA news agency reported late last week.

Quoting Agriculture Minister Issa Kalantari, IRNA said the country was presently short of 1.2 billion cubic metres of water for farming.

Klantari urged farmers to rationalise water consumption and dig wells to make up for rainfall shortage.

He said dry farming lands in the northwestern province of Ardebil, which depend on rainwater, had been completely destroyed.

The minister said the Sefidroud and Aras dams in northern Iran contained only 30 to 60 percent of their capacities. Iran's northern provinces, some of them bordering the Caspian Sea, are usually well-watered and humid, producing much of the country's wheat, rice and citrus fruits.

Officials, who said the shortage was the worst in 30 years, have warned of severe shortages in Tehran for the summer months beginning in June.