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Flooded Azerbaijani Villagers Want Dam Dismantled

BAKU -- Residents of villages in central Azerbaijan still flooded from last month's heavy rains are seeking greater help from the government to lower the water level, RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service reports.

The people say the dismantling of a dam on the nearby Kura River would lower its level and cause the water still flooding the Qasimbeyli, Axtachi, Asgarbayli, and Dalilar villages of Sabirabad district and the nearby Novruzlu village to drain into the Kura and Araz rivers.

Qasimbeyli resident Fatulla Fatullayev told RFE/RL today that although the levels of the Kura and Araz have fallen, four villages between the confluence of the two rivers are still under water.

Local officials reject the villagers' demand to dismantle the dam. They say no further action is possible until the level of the Kura reverts to normal.

Vafadar Bagirov, who heads the Sabirabad district commission for emergencies, told RFE/RL that the residents' argument is flawed. He pointed out that dismantling the dam could cause Lake Sarisu to overflow, flooding an even larger expanse of territory.

The Kura burst its banks last month, flooding some 20,000 households and more than 50,000 hectares of arable land. More than 300 homes were destroyed and 2,000 more badly damaged.

An Azerbaijan parliament committee today decided to allocate 300 million manats ($373 million) from the state budget in flood relief.