People, Travel

Funds Allocated to Restore 11 Qanats

Funds Allocated to Restore 11 Qanats
Funds Allocated to Restore 11 Qanats

The government has earmarked 300 billion rials ($7.9 million) for the next fiscal year (starts March 21, 2017) for the restoration and preservation of 11 qanats inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List last year under the name "Iran's Ancient Qanat System".

"Each qanat will receive a specified amount of money depending on factors such as their location, tourism capacity and level of restoration," Mohammad Hossein Talebian, a deputy for cultural heritage at Iran's Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization, was quoted as saying by IRNA.

Qanats are underground aqueducts first used by Persians c. 1000 BC. These structures were used to transfer water from aquifers in highlands to the surface at lower levels by gravity. Historians believe the qanats of Iran were built on a scale that rivaled the great aqueducts of the Roman Empire.

"Among the estimated 37,000 qanats throughout the country, 120 have been identified and located by the experts. However, only 11 were able to receive UNESCO status," Talebian said.

The official said world heritage sites are under the protection of UNESCO and other international organizations, which bring global attention to them.

"It is imperative to ensure the qanats' structural stability, which task falls on ICHHTO, local water and cultural heritage officials and the Ministry of Agriculture," Talebian said.

Throughout the arid regions of Iran, agricultural and permanent settlements are supported by the ancient qanat system of tapping alluvial aquifers at the heads of valleys and conducting the water along underground tunnels by gravity, often over many kilometers.

South Khorasan, Yazd, Kerman, Isfahan and Markazi provinces are home to the 11 qanats inscribed on UNESCO's World Heritage List. Reportedly, some of them include rest areas for workers, water reservoirs and watermills.

The traditional communal management system still in place allows equitable and sustainable water sharing and distribution.

The qanats provide exceptional testimony to cultural traditions and civilizations in desert areas with an arid climate.

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