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Isfahan City Council Obliged to Settle Down Metro Crisis: Lawyer

By Soudabeh Sadigh

The level of concern among cultural heritage experts has been elevated as subway construction resumes under Chahar Bagh Street in Isfahan while Isfahan's City Council, the official body in charge, has shown much indifference to this concern.

Isfahan's subway under construction

Tehran, 29 October 2006 (CHN) -- Construction of subway in the city of Isfahan has become an issue the city is dealing with in the past year. Experts have repeatedly warned that the infrastructure would pose a real threat to historic monuments of the city, especially if the tracks pass under the famous Chahar Bagh Street. This is while Isfahan's city council, which according to law experts is in charge of the issue, has not yet taken any action to settle down the city's metro crisis.

Commenting on the issue, Mohammad Ali Dadkhah, spokesman of Iran's Association of Human Rights Lawyers and a member of Raad Law Institute, said that while the number of people who protest construction of Isfahan's metro under Chahar Bagh Street is increasing everyday, no serious action has been seen on the part of Isfahan's City Council to alleviate this crisis.

"According to cultural heritage experts and architects, passing of metro under Chahar Bagh Street would not only pose serious harm to this historical street, it would also threaten its surrounding historic buildings such as Chahar Bagh School, Hasht Behesth Palace, Chehel Sotoon Palace and Si-o-Se Pol Bridge. This means that Isfahan's City Council must take actions in accordance with the city's wellbeing and stop being indifferent to this potential threat," said Dadkhah who has been appointed by more than 1750 clients to put a legal end to subway construction under Chahar Bagh.

Defending Isfahan's City Council against accusations of ignoring the threats of subway construction to Chahar Bagh, Ahmad Aminpour, vice chairman of Isfahn's City Council explained that construction of Isfahan's metro under Chahar Bagh Street requires specialties and is beyond the responsibilities of the City Council.

"The case of Isfahan's metro is being pursued by the Interior Ministry's High Council for Traffic Coordination. So while such official organization is in charge of the matter, there is no need for Isfahan's City Council to get involved," said Aminpour to CHN.

On the other hand, experts believe that the blame should be put on members of Isfahan's City Council who have ignored the case from the beginning. They argue that the Council must have closely examined the plan and supervised the construction process to prevent such issue from happening.

Prior to this, the routing of Isfahan's metro was determined to be changed. The former governor of Isfahan had ordered that the tracks be constructed under Shamsabadi Street instead of Chahar Bagh. Later, the High Council for Traffic Coordination approved the previous plan and subway construction resumed under Chahar Bagh. Following the objections by Iran's Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organization, the case was referred to the Ministry of Interior for further studies.

Chahar Bagh, literary meaning Four-Garden, was designed by Isfahani architects in 1597 during the Safavid dynastic era (1501-1736 AD) under the reign of Shah Abbas. It was constructed in three flanks with stone pavements and rivers passing by. This pattern in the design of gardens is rooted in the Iranians' image of the Garden of Eden which they picture as being divided by four rivers.

... Payvand News - 10/30/06 ... --

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