disaster, too, he added, in which the
sea’s disappearance brought unemploy-
ment, poverty and emigration.
Darmenov, 58, didn’t hesitate to
place blame squarely on the
agricultural scientists and civil engineers
transformed semi-arid steppe into fields
of cotton and wheat through irrigation
that required building some 30,000
kilometers of canals, 45 dams and more
than 80 reservoirs.
Once-abundant freshwater fish, commem-
by a statue in Aral, were
reduced to a vestige of their former
numbers by both the decrease of habitat
and the rising salinity caused by the lack of
replenishment from the Syr Darya and
Amu Darya. Stranded as waters retreated
and abandoned by their owners, fishing
fleets such as this one at Zhalanash,
now only hint at the former shoreline.