People, Environment

High-Rise Fever Costing Tehran

High-Rise Fever Costing TehranHigh-Rise Fever Costing Tehran

The mushrooming of high-rises around Tehran has cost the city its clean air and accelerated the disappearance of green spaces, according to an official at the Ministry of Roads and Urban Development.

"Although the High Council for Urban Planning and Architecture recently banned the construction of buildings higher than 11 floors, the problem persists since projects that obtained permits before the ban cannot be stopped," Pirouz Hanachi, deputy for urban development at the ministry, said in a report on the Roads Ministry's website.

Environmentalists and experts have long argued that the rising number of tall buildings and skyscrapers, especially in upscale districts and the western flank of the Iranian capital, block air corridors, reduce wind movement and hinder the dispersion of traffic-related air pollutants.

Tehran Municipality has been particularly blamed for allowing this state of affairs.

Last year, the high council approved a bill that put a moratorium on high-rise construction in Tehran until the neighborhoods and locations suitable for tall structures are determined.

Article Five Commission of TM has prepared a draft of regulations for high-rise construction that must be ratified by the high council.

"We have to study it first but based on what we know, the regulations are unlikely to help the situation and will most likely be rejected," Hanachi said.

The official also pointed to the tower-garden directive whose cancellation has been supported by the Department of Environment and discussed in Tehran City Council.

"Once city council members reach an agreement and refer the case to us (the high council), we will definitely vote for its annulment," he said, adding that the directive has led to the destruction of 4,000 hectares of Tehran's gardens.

Ironically, the Roads Ministry's High Council for Urban Planning and Architecture had ratified this so-called "tower-garden" directive that allows construction in 30% of a private garden area while the remaining 70% should be preserved as green space.

While it sounds good in theory, it has been a disaster in practice due to the myriad of loopholes and disinclination of district mayors to enforce it.


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