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City of Isfahan Threatened by Subway Construction


Evidence indicates that by continuing the project of subway construction under Chahar-Bagh Street, water from Zayandeh Rud River would flood under the city.

Tehran, 6 July 2006 (CHN) -- Latest geological studies in the city of Isfahan show that since Chahar-Bagh Street is located on a bed of stone, creating any hole in it for constructing the city subway will result in some cracks appearing in the foundation of the city's major constructions and ultimately putting Isfahan at risk as the water from Zayandeh Rud River will flow under the city.

This news was announced by Mohammad Ali Tabarsa, an expert from Iran's Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organization (ICHTO) who is in charge of following the case of Chahar-Bagh in the city of Isfahan.

Tabarsa believes that when Sio-Se-Pol and Khajoo, two bridges expanding over Zayandeh Rud River in Isfahan, were constructed during the Safavid Period (226-651 AD), their constructors took the matter into account and caulked the nearby grounds to prevent the leaking of water into or under the ground.

On the other hand, experts of the city subway believe that the soil which covers the surface layer of Chahar-Bagh Street is quite sandy, which will result in sinking of the earth due to digging a tunnel under it.

Last week the, collapse of the ceiling of the tunnel in Isfahan killed a subway worker who was working there at the time. Pointing out to the possibility of repetition of such events in the future, Tabarsa believes that the authorities of Isfahan's subway system should take all the possible threats into account.

"The authorities of Isfahan's subway system are trying to get a certificate for constructing the subway under the Chahar-Bagh Street in Isfahan; but the question is have they ever thought of the consequences if the ceiling of the tunnel is to collapse again during the construction process? They should take this important matter into account that they are responsible for all the humanistic and historical disasters this project is likely to bring with itself," said Tabarsa.

Having many historical sites, cultural heritage experts are very much concerned about the negative consequences the metro project may have, as it is almost evident that it could cause damages to some historical sites of the city of Isfahan including the Safavid stone water fountains in Chahar Bagh Street. "The water fountains belonging to the Safavid period have remained intact after so many years and can be revived. However, the passing of subway under Chahar-Bagh may lead to destruction of these fountains," said Mohsen Javeri, head of Archeology Office of the Cultural Heritage and Tourism Department of Isfahan province.

While the authorities of Isfahan subway project claim that this subway will pass at a depth of18 meters from the ground and will cause no harm to the historical sites, Javeri says that the severe shakes caused by passing of metro will have negative impacts on historical monuments which exist in the area.

According to cultural heritage experts, one of the other historical sites in the city of Isfahan which will be threatened by construction of subway under the Chahar-Bagh Street is Chahar-Bagh school which enjoys one of the unique architectural styles of the Safavid period.

None of these problems would have ever happened had the project of subway construction been studied more carefully before starting of the project.

During the period of the former governor of Isfahan province, the issue of passing the subway beneath the Chahar-Bagh was resolved. However, the new governor of Isfahan has supported the continuation of subway construction under this street. Unfortunately, the project has been approved by the governor office of Isfahan province and it has been submitted to Iran's Ministry of Interior and Iran's High Council for Traffic Coordination. While according to this Council, the final path of the subway should be determined and approved by Iran's Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organization (ICHTO), this organization has not yet announced its agreement with this project.

Cultural heritage experts believe that the only way to save the historical sites of Isfahan is to change the direction of the subway route. "If people of Isfahan are interested in protecting the historical identity of their city, I believe they would have no problem to spend an extra 10 minutes in the subway, if its path is to be changed," said Mohammad Reza Beheshti, former president of ICHTO.

The historical city of Isfahan was the capital of Iran during the Safavid era. Having a large number of historical sites, it is considered one of the most attractive tourism destinations in Iran. Chahar-Bagh Street is a historical street in this city, constructed also during the Safavid period.

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