Restrictions on agricultural activities in the region are one measure being taken by the Iranian government in order to save the rapidly drying Urmia Lake.

According to the new plan, a large expanse of land watered by the Zarineh River will have a temporary ban on agricultural activities. The plan has been entitled the “No Planting Project.”

The government is supposed to lease 50,000 hectares of farmland from farmers and pay them damages so that the water used for irrigating the agricultural activities in the area will pour into Lake Urmia instead.

The project is to be implemented over three years but damages for the farmers are only to be paid for one year for the time being.

The plan will take effect to coincide with the fall planting. The provinces of Eastern and Western Azerbaijan are responsible for putting it into effect, and the Urmieh Lake Restoration Task Force is to maintain a monitoring role.

The Restoration Task Force was established by the Rohani administration to stop the decline of the country’s largest inland lake. So far it has proposed 26 solutions to the problem, one of which is the No Planting Project.

The overt building of dams and the over-exploitation of the lake’s feeders as well as general changes in climate have led to the rapid decline of Lake Urmia, creating vast areas of salt desert and threatening the health of local residents.