water-filling operation for the Karoun 3 dam, which threatens to
submerge historical sites in southwestern Iran, was kicked off
Monday, as Iran’s cultural heritage officials turned down the
invitation to take part in the ceremony, attended by Energy
Minister Habibollah Bitaraf.
The dam is located east of Izeh, in the Khuzestan province, home
to ancient civilizations and monuments. Now archeologists have
just one month to rescue Elamite sites and 6 months to salvage
relics left over from the Iron Age. A team of Iranian
archaeologists have already expressed its willingness to join
the experts currently working at the Izeh historical site to
help identify, document and save the ancient Elamite site.
Iran lacks either the necessary underwater archaeology expertise
or proper equipment so it will be almost impossible to save the
site unless foreign experts are invited, said Mahmud
Mireskandari of the underwater archaeology team at the Cultural
Heritage and Tourism Organization (CHTO).
Although Iran's power capacity will increase by 44 per cent
after a 2,000-mw hydropower plant that is to be built beside
Karoun 3 dam is completed in the near future, the potential
damage to unexplored sites is incalculable. Some 40 percent of
the reservoir space will be filled with water in the next three
months, submerging rare artifacts yet to be documented.
The Karoun 3 hydropower plant will be the third biggest in Iran
after Masjed Soleyman and Shahid Abbaspour plants. The capacity
of the reservoir dam is estimated at 1.25 billion cubic meters.
Mahab Co. undertook the construction project along with a
Canadian contractor in 1995. The company spent a total of $10.8
million to buy lands on either side of the project location.
Altogether, some $900 million was spent to implement the Karoun
3 project. The dam, once operational, is estimated to bring $200
million for the country each year.