Economy, Business And Markets

Ban on High-Rises

Ban on High-Rises Ban on High-Rises

The High Council of Construction and Architecture has banned the issuance of new permits for construction of high-rise buildings in Tehran, in response to the worsening air pollution crisis in the ever-expanding capital. The ban is on buildings over 12 stories.

In an emergency meeting late Monday, the council members headed by Abbas Akhoundi, the minister of roads and urban development forged  a consensus to halt the construction of skyscrapers which is said to be a primary cause of the dangerous pollution, Fars News Agency reported.

“The council decided to put on hold the signing of agreements or contracts for the construction of towers until a comprehensive set of regulations for such constructions are in place,” the council proclaimed in an announcement posted on the ministry’s website.

Tehran Mayor Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf, and representatives from Iran Meteorological Organization were also present at the meeting.

High and rising air pollution in Tehran resulted in the closure of schools and filled hospitals for three weeks last month sending shockwaves among the rulers and ruled for the umpteenth time -- pattern seen every year during the winter seasons.

The Air Quality Index jumped to 162, whereas according to the World Health Organization the acceptable level is zero to 50.

The meeting was held following President Hassan Rouhani’s announcement last week that his government would take immediate action to tackle the severe smog problem in the capital and other major cities across the country.  The president in particular criticized the frenzied construction of towers in Tehran, especially in the western parts of the sprawling capital already clogged with the steel and cement monsters.

It was decided at the high-profile meeting that the Tehran Municipality prepare a detailed report on constructions in District 22 of Tehran within three weeks, including the total number of permits issued, date of issue, total number of buildings and their height.

Tehran’s 22nd district is clogged with high-rise buildings which has raised serious concern over its impact on the environment and air quality across the city.

The Department of Environment had said in December that the increasing number of towers around the city had made the fight against air pollution almost impossible.

Municipalities – which seemingly are public bodies independent of the government -- are responsible for issuing construction permits that are the main source of their income.

Council members also announced plans to develop a comprehensive set of rules for high-rise constructions across the country in cooperation with the academia and experts.

Setting a Limit

Akhundi said Tehran’s Comprehensive Plan envisages a total population of 7.8 million for the capital when in actuality it has already exceeded 10.6 million.

“The government and municipal officials should define a limit for the expansion of Tehran and other major cities,” the minister told the meeting.

“The total number of buildings far exceeds the number of permits that have been issued in District 22,” Akhoundi added. He also referred to the mayor’s report that the TM had issued 979 permits for the district since 1987 “but each permit is applicable for building several buildings.”

Studies have been conducted across the world that affirm high-rises  obstruct the flow of air, and a study in Tehran that traced air pollution over the past 50 years suggests that skyscrapers have been negatively affecting Tehran’s air quality, especially in past 10 years, Akhundi said .

He hoped that the council would stop construction of high-rises in other urban areas in the country.