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The Tragic Transformation of the Aral Sea: From Vast Blue Waters to a Desolate Desert

The blue sea that was once spread as far as the eye can see…after a few days it turns into a sand flat…I wonder if everything will happen like this….It took only 50 years for the sea that was millions of years old to turn into a desert.



This is not fiction. This is a tragedy that happened to a lake that was known as the Aral Sea. The Aral Sea is a sea in Central Asia that stretches between Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. Aral was also the largest fresh water lake in the world. How did this place become a desert?

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The northern part of this lake was in Kazakhstan and the southern part was in Uzbekistan. At that time there were 1,534 small islands in the Aral Lake. Its area was 68,000 square kilometers. Hundreds of people depended on the Aral Lake for their livelihood. People living on the coast say that up to 400 kg of fish were caught from there in a day.

The word Aral means sea of ​​islands. The Aral Sea was fed by two large rivers from Central Asia. In the 1960s, the Soviet government began diverting these rivers to the cotton and grain fields of Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan. At that time these countries were part of the Soviet Union. It was also a time when the Soviet Union was competing to become the world’s largest producer of cotton.

To this end, the Soviet government decided to build canals and dams to bring more water to their farmland. Later we could see that the lake started to deplete even though agriculture developed. In the first ten years, the lake began to shrink at a rate of 20 cm per year. Later on the rate of contraction increased. In 1960, the extent of the lake was 68,000 square kilometers and by 1998 it had shrunk to 28,700 square kilometers. By 2000, withdrawals from the river had increased. The flow of water into the Aral Lake has decreased significantly. The lake itself split into two. The northern part is in Kazakhstan and the southern part is in Uzbekistan.

The salt content in the remaining water increased. Large quantities of chemical pesticides were mixed. It destroyed the survival of fish and other aquatic life. Birds and animals that depended on the Aral Sea also died. A white spot or dust began to cover those who stepped into the water.

The body started to dry up. The land, which had grown abundantly with barley, corn and melons, was scorched. The rain stopped. Even the grass was destroyed. Krishna’s animals that lived on the shore disappeared. The extreme heat of summer and the extreme cold of winter became too much to bear. Toxins are also mixed in the drinking water. Cancer and other diseases have increased among the locals. Later people started fleeing to distant places. Soon the Aral Lake disappeared completely.

Later, the government launched schemes to improve the lives of people who were dependent on Aral. In 2005, the Kazakh government and the World Bank built a dam dividing the lake area into two. This helped to raise the water level in the northern Aral, but the lake did not fully recover.

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2023-07-25 13:39:18

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