Wednesday, June 25, 2003

Dead Sea - Red Sea Canal

The Israel and Jordan governments are planning to link up the Dead sea to the Red sea. The main reason for this is because the dead sea is dying- water levels have dropped as much as 8 m below average levels. Also the two governments plan to desalinate water as well as use the pressure difference (the dead sea is also the lowest point on earth) to generate electricity (click here for a detailed description of the plan). The dead sea is itself an anomaly, and whenever i drive to the Arava Valley, i see traces of its presence everywhere. The surrounding area has such a bizarre landscape that it seems to belong only at the bottom of some water body. The Israeli Govt had a plan to connect the dead sea to the Meditteranean but the plan was dropped. I am most worried about the ecological impact. The salinity of the dead sea will decrease and there is no saying how it will affect the surrounding region. Maybe floating in the Dead Sea will be a thing of the past. Apart from that the canal will also probably affect the entire Arava valley unless they use pipelines. I am usually a bit apprehensive when people try to play with huge water bodies. In India currently there is a plan to link the Ganges in the north to the Kaveri in the south, but this is such a complicated project that the plan is revived for political reasons in times of drought . I hope they don't succeed in implementing this, linking rivers seems to be foolhardy at best and in the flood prone northern plains, it is just asking for trouble. Also in Russia , there seems to be revival in the plan to turn the Ob river from its bed and send the water towards the asian republics. Again a plan that thrives on political considerations. Left to me, i would suggest modelling the entire scenario for say a hundred thousand years and then asses the plan. By which time, hopefully the leadership would have changed.