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Contradictory Statements on Railway Project in Naqsh-e Rostam


02 August 2007




Edited by Shapour Suren-Pahlav


LONDON, (CAIS) -- Despite all previous warnings regarding the threats to Naqsh-e Rostam due to construction of Esfahan-Shiraz railway in the vicinity of this historic site, its seems that the issue is not resolved yet and concerns for how to protect this invaluable historic site still continue.


While Islamic Republic’s Ministry of Road and Transportation is busy with buying the lands in vicinity of Naqsh-e Rostam located in Iranian Fars province, cultural heritage deputy of Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts, and Tourism Organization (ICHHTO) has declared that the authorities of the project can buy as much land as they wish, however they are not allowed to use them for passing the railway.


Based on earlier agreements between authorities of the Road Ministry and ICHHTO, the Esfahan-Shiraz railway project should not pass near Naqsh-e Rostam historic site. On the other hand, the measure of railway authorities for purchasing Naqsh-e Rostam’s nearby lands has put the whole situation in a state of ambiguity.


What is more surprising in this regard is that while Kermānihā, general manager of public relations department of Construction and Development Company, claims that with getting the approval of governor of Fars province, Esfahan-Shiraz railway will be constructed on its original path, director of ICHHTO Fars provincial department, has expressed unawareness about such an agreement.


He further explained that neither he nor the authorities of Pars-e Pasargadae Research Center have taken part in any meeting in this regard.


On the other hand, in a talk with Persian service of CHN, Jalil Hejāzi, former director of Road and Transportation Department of Fars province, said that as far as he is concerned until 5th of July that he was still worked in his position, no agreement was announced by ICHHTO about passing of railway near Naqsh-e Rostam historic site.    


ICHHTO on several occasions has declared its opposition to the implementation of the project. Previously it was agreed that the railroad would run parallel to the Esfahan-Shiraz Highway, this is while based on their initial project, authorities of the railway are determined to construct the railway only 500 meters distance of Naqsh-e Rostam. Experts had previously warned that the powerful jolts caused by the trains would have a harmful effect on the historic monuments in the region, most of which dating back to the Achaemenid dynastic era (550-330 BCE), particularly the Ka’aba of Zoroaster will collapse within ten-years is the railway become operational.


After studying different alternatives for saving the cultural landscape of the historic site of Naqsh-e Rostam against railway construction, experts of Pars-e Pasargadae Research Centre concluded that the most effective way to prevent the railway from intruding the historic landscape of this Achaemenid site is to construct a six-kilometer-long tunnel from Sivand to Shoul village and direct the train through the tunnel.


Naqsh-e Rostam contains four tombs of Achaemenid monarchs which are cut into the rock of the cliff, one of which is belong to Darius the Great. The other three tombs are believed to have belonged to Xerxes I, Artaxerxes I, and Darius II.


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