Controversial canal

 
Last Updated: Saturday 04 July 2015 | 02:50:09 AM

IRAQ OPENED its Third River, a vast drainage canal flowing midway between the Euphrates and the Tigris, in early December. The 565-km-long main canal, which took 40 years to complete because of revolutions, wars and sanctions, will reclaim 1.5 million ha of Iraq's agricultural land (of which 300,000 ha have already been reclaimed) that have become barren due to salination. The canal crosses the Euphrates by tunnel at Nasiriyah. At its southern end, its highly saline waters are discharged into the northern, drainage portion of the Basra river, another human-made channel running parallel to and meant as a replacement for the blocked Shatt-al-Arab.

After the Gulf war, it was alleged that the main purpose of the canal was to drain large portions of the southern marshes, inhabited by Shia-Muslim dissidents. Iraq, however, denied this vehemently. There is also speculation that Iraq plans to dry these marshes for beneath them lie large and proven oil fields.

Subscribe to Weekly Newsletter :
We are a voice to you; you have been a support to us. Together we build journalism that is independent, credible and fearless. You can further help us by making a donation. This will mean a lot for our ability to bring you news, perspectives and analysis from the ground so that we can make change together.

Comments are moderated and will be published only after the site moderator’s approval. Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name. Selected comments may also be used in the ‘Letters’ section of the Down To Earth print edition.