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CHTHO protest slows down filling of reservoir of Salman-e Farsi Dam

TEHRAN, April 13 (Mehr News Agency) -- Officials of the Fars Regional Water Company have slowed down the filling of the reservoir of the Salman-e Farsi in southern Iran's Fars Province following the protest of the Cultural Heritage, Tourism, and Handicrafts Organization (CHTHO), the Persian service of CHN reported on Thursday, while declining to reveal the source.

The company began filling the reservoir in mid-March without the CHTHO's permission. It will flood a 350-hectare Sassanid city, which had been inhabited since the pre-Achaemenid era.

An archaeological team, which has been excavating the site since April 5, has discovered many ancient urban structures including a castle, a fire temple, a residential area, and a bazaar.

The director of the Archaeological Research Center of Iran (ARCI), Mohammad-Hassan Fazeli Nashli, recently arrived in the region to conduct a close inspection of the excavation process.

Over the past few years, Iran's dam construction projects have become a major threat to the cultural heritage of the whole country. Fars Province is particularly affected, where the Mulla Sadra, Marvast, and Sivand dams will cause the flooding of many significant ancient sites.

The reservoir of the Sivand Dam, which will flood a large section of the Bolaghi Valley in Fars Province, is the most controversial case. The region has over 130 archaeological sites dating from prehistoric periods to the early Islamic era.

CHTHO accused of being indifferent to threats to cultural heritage

A group of cultural heritage enthusiasts gathered in front of the CHTHO headquarters in Tehran on Wednesday demanding that its director resign and that the plan to fill the reservoir of the Sivand Dam should be cancelled.

They also asked the CHTHO to explain why the organization which is under the auspices of the Energy Ministry, has "irresponsibly" issued licenses for dam construction projects.

CHTHO Director Esfandiar Rahim-Mashaii told the Iranian Labor News Agency (ILNA) on Monday that, in his point of view, the filling of the reservoir of the Sivand Dam does not pose a problem and it is unnecessary to continue the rescue excavations in the area.

Meanwhile, the Energy Ministry has granted a reprieve, giving experts more time to conduct archaeological excavations and research, and the filling of the reservoir has been postponed until September.

... Payvand News - 4/13/07 ... --

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