By: Ahmed Alhaj (Site Admin)
KHARTOUM, (sudanow.info.sd)-A study by the World Bank on the impact of a projected canal linking the Red Sea with the Dead Sea in Jordan may put an end to the future of one of the most controversial regional development projects in Jordan and with the neighbouring countries sharing the coasts of this historic sea, as stated by Jordanian specialists.
Environmental Researcher-activist Pater Wordum has argued that “We are all waiting for the World Bank final study on this project, and after that we can examine proposals of implementation. ” He is also hopeful that the Bank would publish this study in a month’s time and would post it on its website because it is of interest to everyone.
The regional canal project that links Jordan with Palestine and Israel has evoked divergent political and environmental viewpoints in support and in rejection of the project ever since its presentation in the 2002 e Johannesburg summit. This was because it is viewed as one strategic solution to the acute water scarcity in Jordan and also a solution to the several environmental hazards faced by the Dead Sea, in particular and the region, in general.
While it is opposed by some politicians because it would lead to normalizing relations with Israel, others support the project because it provides one of the few solutions to water problem in this Arab country. Environmentalists opine that it would affect the coral reefs of the Red Sea and would aggravate pollution of the environment by the pipes which will convey the water.
Wordum agrees that the project involves environmental hazards, including among other things, the mixture of the waters of the two seas which are of different salinity and composition combinations. “We don’t know how this problem could be tackled,” he said.
“We have no other option than desalination of the sea water for addressing our water drinking shortage in Jordan,” said Saad Abu Hamour, the Secretary-General of the Jordan Valley Authority.
“Potable water is a priority in Jordan and we are trying to secure it by linking the two seas,” he said, adding that the project’s environmental effects, such as the water mixture, can be overcome with engineering methods in a way that the nature of the waters would not be affected and would not pose a health hazard to the consumers.
The project, which will be implemented in three phases, is estimated to cost about 10 billion US dollars. Hamour says Jordan alone cannot provide this fund and the international community must stretch a hand for carrying out this project because it concerns the entire international community as it involves religious and creed dimensions that touch of the feelings of millions of people on Earth.
Jordan is one of the world’s four poorest countries with regard to water as it produces around 880 billion cubic meters distributed over drinking household consumption and other economic activities and agriculture which alone consumes 58% of total water in Jordan and largely depends on ground water.
The Secretary-General of the Ministry of Water, Basim Talfah says the water sector in Jordan requires investments of 1.5 billion US dollars to cover the deficit in this vitally important sector alone.
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