KARBALA: Work has begun on a project to establish a sewage network in two Karbala neighborhoods at a total cost of over 3 billion Iraqi dinars, the chairman of the reconstruction committee in Karbala's provincial council said on Wednesday.
"Karbala's sewage department has launched a sewage network project in the two southern neighborhoods of al-Orouba and al-Ghadeer at a cost of 3.696 billion Iraqi dinars (1 U.S. dinar= 1,118 Iraqi dinars)," Fallah Hassan Atiya told Aswat al-Iraq.
The project will be implemented in two stages, with an overall completion period of nearly 20 months, Atiya noted.
Karbala, with an estimated population of 572,300 people in 2003, is the capital of the province and is considered to be one of Shiite Muslims' holiest cities.
The city, 110 km south of Baghdad, is one of Iraq's wealthiest, profiting both from religious visitors and agricultural produce, especially dates.
It is made up of two districts, "Old Karbala," the religious centre, and "New Karbala," the residential district containing Islamic schools and government buildings.
At the centre of the old city is Masjid al-Hussein, the tomb of Hussein Ibn Ali, grandsone of the Prophet Muhammad by his daughter Fatima al-Zahraa and Ali Ibn Abi Taleb.
Imam Hussien's tomb is a place of pilgrimage for many Shiite Muslims, especially on the anniversary of the battle, the Day of Ashuraa. Many elderly pilgrims travel there to await death, as they believe the tomb to be one of the gates to paradise. On April 14, 2007, a car bomb exploded about 600 ft (200 m) from the shrine, killing 47 and wounding over 150.
© Aswat Aliraq 2008