Friday, December 25, 2009

Koohrang Tunnel


The Koohrang Tunnel (تونل کوهرنگ) is situated near Chelgerd in the Chaharmahal and Bakhtiari Province and it is said that it was constructed so as to annex the waters of Koohrang to that of the Zayandeh Rood. The construction of the tunnel began during the Sassanid period, approximately from the time of Shah Abbas I. At the time they planned to make a vertical crevice at the vertical axis of Karkonan Mountain and by means of a dam which crosses the same axis, lead the water through the crevice to increase the water level in Karoon River. Although first proposed in the early sixteenth century, the Koohrang Tunnel was finally completed in 1953.  

It should be clarified though that while this waterway is called a tunnel, however, for the most part it is not really a tunnel in the sense that it has no roof, but rather is an open waterway or water canal. Along its path there is also a waterfall which gives the area a very scenic view. Throughout the year, even in the winter as a result of its proximity to ski slopes, many tourists can be spotted enjoying this natural environment.  

The distance from the peak to the riverbed was measured 300 meters. The height of the dam was 50 meters and the height of the crevice 250 meters so as to allow a water flow. Fifteen years of construction for this purpose took place and while not completed, today much evidence of the work can still be seen such as the Shah Cut and the Shah Abbas Dam. It is said that for this much of cut which was made at the time of Shah Abbas approximately 5 million workers were required and for 15 years these workers labored at excavating. After the attack of the Ottomans and Shah Abbas’s passing away, the construction activity was stopped and the project forgotten.  

In recent decades the new tunnel of Koohrang was constructed joining the 3 water branches of the Karoon River to 3 water branches of Zayandeh Rood and therefore has created an interesting vicinity worth seeing. Two additional tunnels were constructed in late 1990s and early 2000s. Throughout its course, the presence of lush green thickets adds to the beauty and the pleasant environment, which attributes to the recreational atmosphere. 

In 2009 the continuation of construction of a third tunnel was temporarily halted as a result of the presence of approximately 300 protesters from the surrounding villages. According to the protesters, the construction of this third tunnel will result in the submerging of approximately 3,000 hectares of land and loss of local waterways to irrigate the agricultural fields. The compensation of the land, which is the only source of income for many of such people, would amount to 660 billion rials. Furthermore it was pointed out that in the past no compensation had also been given for the previous tunnels which bore similar results for the villagers’ land.


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