People, Travel

Call for Ban on Well-Digging Near Persepolis

Call for Ban on Well-Digging Near PersepolisCall for Ban on Well-Digging Near Persepolis

In lieu of the worsening land subsidence in and around the ruins of Persepolis in Shiraz, Iran’s Natural and Historical Monuments Watch has demanded the revocation of permits for digging water wells within the site’s buffer zone.

In a letter to Fars Governor General Mohammad Ali Afshani, the group points to UNESCO’s strict conservation rules and states that the presence of water wells in the buffer zone, which are getting closer to the main site, threaten Persepolis and its world heritage status, ISNA reported.

Cultural heritage sites have boundaries known as buffer zones that are divided into three areas, with Area 1 being the closest to and Area 3 the furthest from the main site.

A buffer zone provides an additional layer of protection to a World Heritage property, separating it from other sites and ensuring no harm comes to the site. National and international laws explicitly ban encroaching on the boundaries of historical places, especially areas 1 and 2.

Cracks in the earth around Persepolis and Naqsh-e-Rostam were first reported eight years ago, suggesting that the two sites were being threatened by land subsidence.

A few years ago, the cracks were only observed in the eastern wing of the ruins, but they have now progressed toward the western and southern flanks as well.

Experts blame the phenomenon on illegal digging of water wells and excessive withdrawal of water from wells, which have led to the depletion of groundwater resources. Declining rainfall and prolonged drought have also exacerbated the problem.

Water levels have gone down by such a large amount that water wells, which were only about a few meters deep a few years ago, are now as deep as 290 meters.

“The destruction of the most significant remnant of our ancient past and civilization on the grounds of producing a few extra tons of crops at such a critical time in our history is illogical,” concludes the letter signed by the head of the watchdog, Alireza Afshari.

Land subsidence in the area has become so severe that professors at Shiraz University describe the status of the globally inscribed site as “extremely at risk”.

According to the locals, at least four wells have been dug very close to Persepolis and Naqshe-e-Rostam over the past few weeks.

The letter strongly demands the officials to annul the permits for all wells in the buffer zone.

A copy of the letter was also sent to Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli and Masoud Soltanifar, the head of Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization.