The issues of Environmental protection and providing ecological safety came to the center of general public in the second half of the 20th century, as humanity, only reaching this century, understood how perilous the negative consequences of ecological disasters were. One of the most obvious examples of such phenomena became the ecological crisis in Aral. Because one of the world’s largest closed reservoirs was lost in the course of 20-30 years. Unreasonable exploitation of Amudarya and Sirdarya rivers brought to the Aral disaster.
Aral Sea is considered the only one in the Central Asian region and has great significance for the lower reaches of the river. The ecology of the region, the temperate nature of the climate, the degree of the climate, the health and lifestyle of the people who live in the zone directly depend on it. In the late 1980s academician S. Kamolov wrote thus “Aral is a blue spot on the map for some people, but for the Karakalpakistan’s nation it is the question of life and fate. The historical destiny of the countries of the Central Asia is connected to it. We can’t live without this sea”.
The level of the sea water has kept changing since the ancient periods. In 1785 the sea floods, 40 years later, in 1825 the water of the sea diminishes. In the years 1835-50 it overflowed, in 1862 its water lessened again. In 1881 the level of the sea had least, but after four years it starts to overflow. The big island on the north-eastern part of the sea is Ko’karal (translation – Blue Island). In 1880 as the water level decreased, navigation started to develop. In 1935 the square of Aral was 69670 square km, the amount of the water was 1153 square cube, only 16 years ago, in 1919 its square was 67300 square km, and its water was 1087 km cube. So in this short period the sea water increased, but in 1976, the square of the sea shrank to 64,5 thousand square km, and its water to 1000 km cube.
In 1960 as the result of increasing of anthropogenic factors, the intellectual stratum of the society started to give warnings about the tragic consequences of the wide development of irrigation in the basins of Amudarya and Syrdarya, the construction of hydraulic facilities and such other activities. But the warnings of the scientists of the Soviet Union Higher Education Institutions were ignored and the plan of developing the national economy of the regions on the sides of Aral was adopted. As a consequence a number of unexpected problems appeared in the use of water resources in Aral zone, the amount of water which flows into the Aral Sea through the rivers radically decreased and the sea level lowered. Although the higher authority of Karakalpakistan was addressed to on this issue a few times, they were left without consideration. Particularly raising the Aral issue was strictly prohibited at that time.
At the late 70s and early 80s economists and the specialists of water economy started to calculate the economic losses and ecological and environmental damages in the event of drying out of Aral. A group of economists of the council of “Learning the Producing Factors” of Uzbekistan Academy of Sciences computed on an apart report all the economic, ecological and environmental losses and damages in years 1980 and 1985 which were induced as the result of that Aral Sea level lowered and desertification in the delta of Amudarya intensified. According to the calculation the Aral zone had the economic loss in the amount of 92.6 million sums in 1980, and in the amount of 128.9 million sums in 1985. The economic damage only in terms of fish industry amounted to 28.9 million sums in 1980, and 30 million sums in 1985.
In 1980 in Nukus a scientific, practical conference with the participation of a range of ministries and 57 scientific institutes was held and practical recommendations were adopted. But those arrangements were not accomplished completely. One of those above-mentioned recommendations were to provide as much the free run as possible of manifolds and flowing water, provide its area of water with engineering management to stabilize the Aral sea level. The recommendations were not realized though they were adopted by the USSR Ministry of Water resources and melioration. Pan-USSR Academy of Agricultural Sciences, the Central Asian Department discuss the agrarian issues of Aral zone matters and work out practical recommendations relating to the development of agro-industrial complex in the existing hard natural-climatic and socio-economic circumstances at the travelling regional session which took place in Nukus in 1985. The recommendations and plans which were developed at the session and conferences were assigned to the Ministries and the bodies of planning and organizing. But in the course of the years 1980-1986 none of those recommendations were implemented.
By the late 80s, the water of Aral has noticeably dried out and its area has shrunk to 20 000 square kilometers and 2.6 million ha land which was once the bottom of Aral transformed to a desert. In every cube meter of earth of the land there was salt from 5 kg until 15 kg. According to the calculations of the scientists the quantity of all the salt which was derived from Aral from the time its level started to decrease until 1985 amounted to 1.5 billion tons. At that time, as a result of the intensification and ecological problems and their acquiring social importance, alongside with the scientists poets and writers, as well as political writers displayed activity in actively raising the issues of the ecological-regional problems and directing the attention of local administration and wide public rounds to them. Uzbekistan SSR people’s writer Shukrullo, in the article of “a drop of water”, said “why there’s no writer who cares the land where he was born!!!”, we, the writers, must draw practical conclusions from this – emphasizes him.
On the theme of ecology the filmmakers also declared the creative mobilization, such as in the films “The sea requires water” (1977, author of scenario S. Blahov, operator – N. Azimov) “Quenching the thirst” (1981, authors of scenario – M. Kayumov, H. Ghulom, K. Ikramov. N. Azimov) the issue of Aral was brightened. One of the motion pictures by the director Shavkat Mahbubov (“A word about Aral”, “When the sands have tongues”) was awarded with the diploma of the contest of “Human and Sea” which took place in Yurmala in 1983. Moreover a film “Collision” about the relationships between the nature and human was created in Uzbekistan in 1987. And the film about the pathetic condition of the Aral became the prize winner of the international festival. (Tallin, 1987.).
In May, 1985 the scientists from Karakalpakistan sent a letter to the USSR minister of melioration and water resources. In the letter a lot of suggestions related to directing the water of manifolds and drainage to the sea were introduced. Such kind of problems was raised by the scientists in the article of “Is the water of Amudarya sweet?” in the newspaper “Pravda” (August 13, 1985). Such ideas and thoughts of the scientists were voiced as very significant topics in a lot of forums. For instance, 1985, May 14-16 in Moscow at the coordinating conference of “the Process of desertification of Aral zone” the report of Kamolov was listened about the ecological aspects of socio-economic development of Aral zone.
On the second half of 1980s, as the result of the active movements of Karakalpakistan scientists, poets, writers and public statesmen, the Committee of Saving the Aral was organized. This event was not outside the attention of the center. In 1988 “Aral-88” complex-expedition was accomplished. It was a big political action of the scientific intellectuals. After the expedition, there was a discussion about it. On the second half of 1980s the struggle to rescue the Aral was intensified even more. For instance, Jalin monthly magazine in Kazakhstan opened the rubric of “Ecology and we”. Different representatives of wide range of specializations from different Republics commented in it. It was a type of social-mass movement.
Mass movements occupied Uzbekistan too. The scientists were supported by journalists and the people of different professions. In the issues of 1987 of “Nature and Human” magazine, the letter of G. Yegimov, the article “Aral is sending SOS” by S. Kamolov, the article of scientists of the Geography institution “It’s not late yet” was announced. In them the authors suggested to introduce the Aral zone as the concept of “Zone of Ecological Disaster”.
In 1987, the round conversation which took place at the assembly of the union of writers of Uzbekistan SSR was dedicated to the saving problems. The chair of Uzbekistan national committee on the program “Human and Biosphere” of UNESCO academician M. Muhammadjanov emphasizes “The water of these reservoirs which snatches the shares of Aral is transforming to the dead water which increases the earth salinization” in his statement.
On the second half of 1980s the actions to save the Aral Sea was even more intensified. The positive changes of principle in learning the ecological problems started to come in sight as “perestroyka” was declared and the ideological control weakened.
In the years of “Perestroyka” in Uzbekistan socio-economic processes and a range of movements dedicated to the negative influence of Aral, ground and drainage waters, the problems of irrigation of the agricultural plants, ecological environment, the quality of living of the population in the different regions of Uzbekistan. At that period the following suggestions about the enhancement of Aral zone conditions were set forth:
- Directing a part of Siberian rivers to Aral.
- Economical utilization of the water in the basin of Aral and running the water to the sea.
- Gathering all the running and flowing water and running them to Aral
- Shortening the area of the cotton fields and so on.
But none of the methods of filling the Aral basin had any scientific, practical ground. Therefore, in 1986 the development of the project of running a part of the Siberian rivers into Sirdaryo and Amudaryo was ended. At that time over 150 scientific research institutes had been dealing with searching and projecting work. Even the cost of running the water of other rivers into Aral was defined by “Soyuzgiprovodhoz” with the participation of its interested organizations. It directly amounted to 35 billion sums including the construction of the canal. The state commission of experts of USSR state Plan afterwards calculated it as 47 billion, a little later 90 billion sums and in the end 120 billion sums.
On the assignment in 11 April 1987 of the council of ministers of USSR which learns the chances and ways of saving Aral was set up. The initial gathering of this commission took place in Nukus city under the chairmanship of the chair of USSR state committee of hydrometeorology and environmental control Y.A. Izrail. The first deputy of the minister of the USSR melioration and water resources said thus at the gathering – “To stabilize the current level of Aral 40-50 km cube of water is needed. We don’t have such amount of water, therefore we must utilize the water which is feeding Aral as much on the high technological level as possible. It was his attitude towards social movements intended for restoration of ecological balance.
In 1987, under the competence of the association of Uzbekistan SSR writers a committee of saving Aral was established. Professor P. Shermuhammedov was appointed in charge of it. On the initiative of the committee of saving Aral, a number of practical actions were taken. The shortening of cotton-giving plan, the idea of increasing the vegetables and woods was set forth. Different events were held to increase the ecological culture of the population. On 29-30 of September in Tashkent Pan-USSR conference was dedicated to the ecology of the basin of Aral and the problems of water resources.
In 1988 the address of the committee of saving Aral “Water to Aral” to the community of Uzbekistan peasants, working people was announced in press. In it “Blocking all the irrigation ditches which waste or might waste water and turning the manifolds and the basins of drainage water into Aral, returning the water in foundation pits Sarykamysh, Arnasay to Aral” was emphasized.
Besides, a theme choice was declared together with the Republic community of Uzbekistan Nature Protection. Journalists, film-directors, painters and composers took part in it. The aim of the event was to improve the destiny of Aral and the ecological environment around it. In addition to money prize, badges were organized for the winners. But such processes were not enough to save Aral. The chair of “The committee of saving Aral” Pirmat Shermuhamedov underlines that 107 gatherings had been held by 1991, adding up the conferences in Moscow, Tashkent, USA, England, Nukus and Tashhauz this number reaches to over 500-600, but any of them gave no result.
At the gatherings the directors of the organizations of the Center used to speak demagogies. Among the speakers there were people who expressed useful ideas, such as, the lectures of the Japanese professor Takesh Goda, London university professor Shirin Akiner, the group leader of the community of the international geography Rager Ksaperson and the president of the institute “World Watch” Lester Brown were approved by the majority. But, in spite of so many gatherings, not a drop of water was poured into the sea. However during the years of “Perestroyka” the society of pan-USSR and the awareness of foreign countries, the demand of the society to solve the Aral problem gave a nudge to the Center to some extent. In 1986, 17 March the Council of the USSR Ministers and the Central Committee of Communistic Party of Soviet Union issued a decree #340. Its aim was to provide the Aral zone population with drinking water. Since then the construction of large water pipes from Tuyamoyun to Kongirot took a start.
1988, September 19 a decree “About deeply improving the ecological and sanitation situations in the Aral zone, increasing the productivity of the utilization of land and water resources, as well as strengthening the protection of the above-mentioned resources” was issued. The enactment of those decrees aroused a big interest among the public, but even after they were issued, no significant changes happened in social and economic life of the zone. Aral disaster continued to cause big damage to the Aral zone.
The statements and addresses of the scientists on the issue went on. Such as, in June, 1990 at the University of Indiana (Bloomington, USA) an international conference in the theme “Aral crisis: the ecological problems of Central Asia”. In it the scientists, including the Central Asian scientists, gave thorough and detailed information about the consequences of the Aral zone disaster. 1991 in USA the monograph of F. Miklin “The Crisis of Water Resources Management in the Central Asia of Soviet Union” was published. Meanwhile the article of M. Glans and I. Zon “Pacific Chernobyl” was announced at the magazine of “World and me”.
Unfortunately during the former Soviet Union the practical actions which were due to be taken to improve the ecological situation at the Aral zone were left only in the paper documents. The Republic of Uzbekistan, having gained the state independence, the socio-political processes intended to improve the ecological balance at the Aral zone rising to a new stage.
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- N. Ikramova. Arranging problems of the ecology of the region. T: Science. 2006. page 65SOCIO-POLITICAL PROCESSES IN THE ATTEMPT TO IMPROVE THE ECOLOGICAL BALANCE ON THE RIVERSIDES OF ARAL IN THE 80s OF THE XX CENTURYIn this article are given socio-political processes in the attempt to improve the ecological balance on the riversides of Aral in the 80s of the XX century. Aral Sea is considered the only one in the Central Asian region and has great significance for the lower reaches of the river. The ecology of the region, the temperate nature of the climate, the degree of the climate, the health and lifestyle of the people who live in the zone directly depend on it. In the late 1980s academician S. Kamolov wrote thus “Aral is a blue spot on the map for some people, but for the Karakalpakistan’s nation it is the question of life and fate.Written by: Allaberganov Sherali Yo’dashovichPublished by: Басаранович ЕкатеринаDate Published: 12/12/2016Edition: euroasia-science_28_28.07.2016Available in: Ebook