Farmers have been angry for a long time now, ever since the government started diverting water from our river, the Zayanderud, to the city of Yazd, out in the desert. This was about 15 years ago, back when Mohammad Khatami was president – it was a gift from him to Yazd, his hometown. Then, under our current government, more water was diverted to another nearby province, Charmahal-Bakhtiari. This has forced Isfahan to rely more on wells, but between a recent drought and mismanagement of water distribution, farmers are really suffering now. Many have lost their crops. There have been protests for months now; but when the farmers realised they weren’t being heard, they decided to take this drastic step of blowing up the pump.
Protesters clashed with police on Wednesday near the pump site. Firing can be heard sporadically throughout the video, though it is unclear where it is coming from.The buses in the distance were burned by protesters.
“If they distributed water based on need, rather than politics, there would be enough water to go around”
I’ve spoken to farmers, and they say they will keep fighting for their water, whatever the price. They refuse to let the authorities go near the pump unless they agree to stop giving any water to the city of Yazd. I don’t think this is a reasonable demand, but I do think they have to raise their voices in order for the government to start managing water more equitably. I have studied this matter, and I am convinced that if they distributed water based on need, rather than politics, there would be enough water to go around.
Meanwhile, in the eastern suburbs of Isfahan, near where the pump is located, the police are on high alert and out in force. Clearly, they are afraid unrest will grow. The water shortages affect farmers the most, but they also affect lots of other industries here – metal work, tourism, etc… It’s terrible for our economy.