Environmental issues in Tajikistan
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The major environmental issues in Tajikistan are concentrations of agricultural chemicals and salts in the soil and groundwater, pockets of high air pollution caused by industry and motor vehicles, water pollution from agricultural runoff and disposal of untreated industrial waste and sewage, poor management of water resources, and soil erosion.
Soil erosion affects an estimated 70 percent of irrigated land, and overgrazing also contributes to soil erosion. Air pollution is a particular problem during times of the year when atmospheric conditions hold industrial and vehicle emissions close to the surface in urban areas. In summer, dust and sand from the deserts of Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan cause air pollution across the entire southwestern lowland region. Forest degradation also is a serious problem as trees are cut to expand pasture land on collective farms.
A large Soviet-era uranium mining operation left poorly constructed repositories of radioactive waste in northwestern Tajikistan. Other operations in Tajikistan extracted and processed gold, antimony, tungsten, mercury, and molybdenum, each of which is known to leave toxic waste. The Kofarnihon, Zarafshon, and Vakhsh rivers pass through heavily polluting industrial regions of the country, carrying pollutants into the Amu Darya and thence to the Aral Sea. The expansion of aluminium processing at Tursunzade, proposed in 2005, would increase industrial pollution in the Dushanbe region. Tajikistan's withdrawal of water for irrigation from the Syr Darya and tributaries of the Amu Darya also influences the quantity of water downstream. Therefore, Tajikistan’s water management policies are a regional concern. The resolution of these problems has been delayed by the overall poverty of the country and the civil war of 1992–97. Although the civil war reduced industrial and agricultural activity substantially, it also interrupted environmental monitoring and maintenance activities put in place by the Soviet Union's Committee on Nature Protection, leaving Tajikistan with a severely reduced infrastructure for both economic and environmental activity.
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