Construction Of Bisri Dam In Lebanon May Threaten Dozens Of Historic Monuments - Activists

Construction of Bisri Dam in Lebanon May Threaten Dozens of Historic Monuments - Activists

BEIRUT (UrduPoint News / Sputnik - 06th March, 2019) The construction of the Bisri dam in southern Lebanon may result in destruction of unique temples and ancient Phoenician, Roman, Christian and Ottoman ruins, Lebanese activist Hassan Hajar told Sputnik on Wednesday.

The dam is expected to be built about 30 kilometers (around 19 miles) south of Beirut in the Bisri valley. The facility is going to be used for irrigating agricultural areas and providing drinking water to 1.6 million people. The Lebanese authorities are going to take a loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to finance the $2-billion project.

"This [Bisri] valley was a natural corridor for all the armies that were coming to Lebanon for centuries. I am speaking about the Assyrians, Persians, Babylonians, Romans and Greeks. Among other [monuments], there are Roman stairs and columns of the Roman temple, constructed on the foundation of the Phoenician temple of Eshmun, in the area [that will be affected by the dam construction]. The Polish group of researchers from the Warsaw University carried out a study 15 years ago and confirmed that there were 70 historic sites from the Phoenician to the Ottoman and Arab eras.

Everything will be destroyed once the dam is constructed," Hajar said.

According to another activist, the dam construction will also destroy pine forests in the area and even change the local climate.

Activists also insist the project of the dam has no economic basis because of the type of the soil in the area and the small number of water sources.

"In 1980s, the European geologists found out that the creation of a dam in this area was pointless. It is cheaper and easier to reconstruct and modernize the water supply built by the French in northern Beirut in the early 20th century," one of the activists said.

Construction of water reservoirs may have significant climatic consequences, as well as result in destruction of historic monuments. For example, construction of the huge Rybinsk Reservoir on the rivers of Volga, Sheksna and Mologa in Russia's Tver, Yaroslavl and Vologda regions in 1930s-1940s resulted in the entire destruction of the historic town of Mologa, whose population was resettled, flooding of the Monastery of St. Nicholas in the town of Kalyazin as well as changed the climate in the area, making it less continental.

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