Mubarak reviews national water policy
Egypt, Economics, 2/7/2000
President Hosni Mubarak yesterday reviewed Egypt's water policy till the year 2017 during a two-hour meeting with a ministerial committee.
"President Mubarak was keen to review Egypt's future water needs and the main aspects of the government's water policy," Information Minister Safwat el-Sherif told reporters after emerging from the meeting.
President Mubarak stressed the importance of maintaining, protecting and developing water resources as a key priority for the government," he added. Mubarak, added Sherif, underlined the importance of the new mega projects nationwide which "are redrawing Egypt's map. The main features of this map will appear by the year 2002"
Sherif was referring to the end of several irrigation projects in Sinai Peninsula and around the Suez Canal banks. He added that the plans Mubarak reviewed during the meeting included cultivating some 1.2 million feddans in the Nile Valley and Delta from the recycled waste water and underground water.
Sherif said that the plans included also the cultivation of 540,000 feddans in the Western Desert from the ground water in addition to 620,000 feddans in Sinai and near the Suez Canal to be irrigated by Nile water through al-Salem water canal.
"The plans included cultivating 250,000 feddans around Cairo and Alexandria to be irrigated by treated sanitary drainage water in addition to 250,000 feddans for future expansion in central Sinai," Sherif said.
"The meeting also underlined the importance of ground water as a key source in Egypt," the Information Minister said. "Underground water resources in Egypt in this year reach 5.4 billion cubic meters. The additional available underground water resources till the year 2017 is 6.5 billion cubic meters. This makes a total of 11.9 billion cubic meters," he told reporters.
The minister added that the agricultural projects would also depend on using recycled waste water, pointing out that the amount of such water till the year 2017 reaches 8.4 billion cubic meters.
Sherif said that during the meeting, Water Resources Minister Dr. Mahmoud Abu Zeid also highlighted cooperation with the Nile basin countries to maintain and develop the river. Abu Zeid told the meeting that his ministry's policies to develop irrigation methods in the old agricultural lands would save some 3 billion cubic meters by the year 2017 that could be used in cultivating 3.4 million feddans of arable land.
He added that the government's investment in this field during the last five-year economic development plan reached LE3.6 billion, adding that these investments would reach LE 11.4 billion by the year 2017. He said that the Egyptian leader had reviewed the timetable for carrying out huge agricultural projects in Sinai, the eastern areas of the Suez Canal and Upper Egypt.
The ministerial meeting also tackled the methods of distributing plots of land as part of the new development projects. Sherif told reporters that the total cost of the Toshka project in Upper Egypt would reach LE 5.7 billion, covering digging the project's maim canal, building an electric substation and installing the world's largest pumping station.
"The construction works of the canal and the pumping station would be completed by the year 2002. This means that water will flow in Toshka project in 2002," he said, adding that most of lands in the area were distributed among private sector companies and investors.
Sherif added that President Mubarak reviewed a scheme to develop the areas between the northern provinces of Rosetta and Port Said. Mubarak ordered the area, southern to an international Mediterranean coast-side highway, be allocated for agricultural investments. "These parcels of land would go under the hammer because they are considered part of the Nile Delta," the minister said.
Sherif added that Mubarak would visit Toshka within weeks to follow up the implementation of works there. "Also within weeks, Mubarak will also attend a ceremony for the flow of water in 70,000 feddans around al Salam water canal," he concluded.
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