Tashkent (Global Adventures): UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called the depletion of the Aral Sea in Central Asia one of the planets most shocking disasters. “It is clearly one of the worst environmental disasters of the world. It really left with me a profound impression. One of sadness that such a mighty sea has disappeared,” Ban said in a UN News Centre statement. Ban inspecting the area divided between Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan from a helicopter.
With a surface area of 26,000 square miles, the lake once was the fourth largest reservoir on earth before the former Soviet Union started diverting tributaries to feed extensive irrigation systems in the 1960s. By 2007, the Aral Sea had declined to 10 percent of its original size, effectively splitting the remaining body of water in two.
Formed in 1987,
the South Aral Sea now is a lake in the basin of the former Aral Sea. For 25 years, a small channel connected the eastern and the western portion of the lake and balanced surface water levels. Today, the eastern portion is almost dry, and what remains of the western portion is partially replenished by ground water.
Fed by the Syr Darya River, the North Aral Sea was cut off from the remains of the Aral Sea in 1987. A dike intended to contain the lake and save its fisheries failed twice before the government of Kazakhstan rebuilt the dam in 2005. Since then, water levels have risen again and fish stocks increased.
the once prosperous fishing industry has virtually destroyed. The whole region has to deal with heavy pollution, economic hardship and high unemployment. Exposure to industrial pollutants such as PCB compounds, heavy metals, and pesticides have created serious public health problems.
The UN Secretary-General did ask the leaders of Central Asian states to take action. “I urge all the leaders to sit down together and try to find the solutions,” said Ban Ki-moon. “We should become better stewards in managing the environment. We must deliver this Planet Earth to our succeeding generations. So that they can live in a more hospitable, in a more environmentally sustainable way.”
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