ALMATY (Delovaya nedelya). In the near future, the climate on earth may change significantly, due to the appearance of a new desert in Central Asia - the Aralkum. Kazakhstan's Foundation for the Salvation of the Aral Sea thinks this forecast may be fulfilled if the Kazakh government approves the Japanese Infrastructure Fund project to increase the release of Aral Sea water to Afghanistan.
The Japanese project may cause an ecological disaster and lead to global climatic changes. Some Central Asian countries are already experiencing such climatic changes, according to Almabek Nurushev, director of the Foundation for the Salvation of the Aral Sea. In his words, Kazakhstan no longer has spring and autumn in the established meaning of these words.
In Nurushev's words, the Japanese project has been supported by the United States, who is going to kill two birds with one stone. Fresh water of the Aral Sea will provide many Afghans with work. This war-weary country will start rebuilding its ruined agriculture. This, in turn, will allow constructing oil and gas pipeline in Afghanistan.
The transfer of Amudarya water to Afghanistan is very expensive. The river passes through several Central Asian countries, mostly across high mountain areas. This project is technically difficult and too costly, think experts of Kazakhstan's Geography Institute.
Should Afghanistan take large volumes of Aral water every year, the sea will inevitably shrink and eventually die. The Japanese project should not be started without the prior discussion by all Central Asian countries, think Kazakh scholars. One such project, aimed at saving the Aral Sea, was discussed by the Central Asian countries 10 years ago.
That project, initiated by Kazakhstan, aimed at rational use of Aral water for irrigation needs. In Soviet times, the water was used too lavishly. According to experts, the Aral Sea was destroyed not in the distant past but during the last years of the Soviet Union's existence.
The project to save Aral has died with the Soviet Union. Today, however, the Central Asian countries may approve the project on the Aral Sea destruction and start its cooperative implementation. The reason is that, like the case of American military bases, this project promises the Central Asian countries easy money.
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