Since the very start, the Red-Dead Canal project has been fraught with controversy. The project which aims to revive the Dead Sea, which is shrinking one metre a year, by tunnelling water from the Red Sea has faced serious criticism. One of which is that rather protecting ecosystems, the project could be the harbinger of doom for the Dead Sea’s fragile ecology. Now that the Israeli minister Silvan Shalom has given the project the go-ahead, environmentalists such as the Friends of the Earth Middle East say that alternatives to the project need to be fully explored.
Gidon Bromberg, Israeli Director of Friends of the Earth Middle East, said: “During this entire project, the voice of environmentalists have not been sufficiently heard, and now too, we witness agreements being made behind closed doors between our countries and the World Bank. Attempts are being made to create facts-on-the-ground prior to proper public consultation.”
The $15 billion Red-Dead Canal project, which was thought up in 2005, is being funded by the World Bank and is expected to take up to 20 years to complete. Although the World Bank has carried out a feasibility study, FoE-ME remark on their website that the study doesn’t adequately address certain questions around the impact on coral reefs, the implications for tourism and the ecological consequences of the project. They also add that there needs to be a greater effort to restore the Dead Sea by rehabilitating the flow of the Jordan River which normally sustains it.
Bromberg added: “While we welcome the partial release of the Red-Dead associated reports, it still remains unclear as to when the Alternatives Study to the Red-Dead project will be made public. Before we put the cart before the horse, we must see and heavily weigh the alternatives”. The Red-Dead Canal would consist of a 180 kilometre pipeline between the Red and Dead Sea. This would transfer 100 billion cubic metres of water into the receding Dead Sea and another 100 billion cubic metres of water would be desalinated to provide drinking water for the parched region.
: Photo of Dead Sea coastline via Shutterstock.com
For more on the Red-Dead Canal projects see: