Dirt from farms and grasslands in southern Iranian provinces has been smuggled to Qatar for the past decade to be used for creating man-made islands and new land along the Persian Gulf coastline, the Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA) has reported, quoting Ali Moridi, the director of the Water and Soil Conservation Office of Iran’s Department of Environment.
“Most of the smuggled dirt is destined for the Gulf states, particularly Qatar and the United Arab Emirates (UAE),” Mr. Moridi explained. “This has been going on for more than 10 years, but is slowing down due to a sharp drop in demand for the soil and also tighter security and border control.”
Moridi noted: “We’ve also had reports about ore from mines being smuggled out of the country. However, we cannot confirm that at this point. The dirt excavated from mines is precious, because it is ultimately used to produce copper, iron, and steel. Illegal mining and transportation of these metals hurt the environment and the country’s economy.”
“We should process the iron and copper ores in the country and export the metal products. The industry would create many jobs and boost the economy. In other words, we should stop selling raw materials and invest in production,” Moridi said.
The Department of Environment had previously warned about dirt from other parts of the country including the Island of Hormuz being smuggled out of Iran. There have also been reports about soil being shipped to some Gulf states disguised as cement.
Translated from Persian by Fardine Hamidi