TCC Will Overturn TM Decision on Car-Free Zone Street

TCC Will Overturn TM Decision on Car-Free Zone StreetTCC Will Overturn TM Decision on Car-Free Zone Street

The Tehran City Council (TCC) is planning to reverse an order of the Tehran Municipality that made the ‘17 Shahrivar Street’ a car-free zone two years ago.

One of the most important thoroughfares in Tehran central district, 17 Shahrivar starts from Imam Hussein Square (district 12) and passes through Shohada Square (district 13) and on to Khorasan Square.

Imam Hussein Square, or ‘Meydan-e-Emam-Hossein’, is a major landmark in eastern central Tehran.

With much fanfare two years ago, the Mayor Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, saw one of “his biggest wishes come true.” On that day he told reporters that he had always wanted to see this particular street without cars, the Persian language newspaper ‘Etemad’ reported.

No sooner said and it was done. Action was taken and in a few months, the roadway was closed for traffic and part of the street between Shohada and Imam Hussein squares was paved as a passageway.

TM officials also held different cultural and social programs at the venue to introduce it to the public as a place for cultural meetings.

However, from the first day itself, people and shopkeepers in the vicinity protested over and over against the measure, but to no avail; until a few days ago, when the TCC decided to take action and address the problem once and for all.

Abolfazl Qana’ati, councilor, said that people were facing immense inconvenience due to the car-free zone and the roadway should be opened at the earliest.

Although he said that a decision would be taken after “a close inspection of the zone,” but by all appearances with the intervention of the TCC, it is likely that the thoroughfare will be opened before the Iranian year is out (March 19).

The TCC has charged Qana’ati with the task of looking into the controversy.

“I believe that the decision of turning 17 Shahrivar Street into a car-free zone was made in haste and without proper consideration by the TM,” he said.

“We are not opposed to the beautification of city roads and streets.  Despite all the inconveniences and loopholes, beautification of the Imam Hussein Square is necessary. But closing one of the main junctions of Tehran without considering the needs of the local people and shopkeepers, under the pretext of beautification of the capital roads, is not acceptable,” he added.

  Protests by Residents

Two years ago, just after its closure to vehicular traffic, the residents of the neighborhood and shopkeepers repeatedly staged a sit-in protest in front of the TCC.

For this reason, a committee was formed under the supervision of head of the TCC Commission on Urban Planning and Architecture to take the responsibility and resolve the problem.  “I do not know why, but unfortunately the committee’s attempts failed to address the Gordian knot.”

The issue intensified to the extent that 400 residents of the neighborhood sent a letter with their signatures demanding a reversal of the TM decision. “Following this, I raised the issue at the council’s open meeting some days ago. Many members were also of the opinion that the issue must be resolved as soon as possible.”

In response to a question by the newspaper on what problems had been created as a result of the TM’s decision, he said the measure had many adverse consequences for the residents.

“For example, people and families living in the neighborhood complain that access to their alleys and streets has been blocked for vehicles, and closing the thoroughfare has led to a significant increase in the number of homeless addicts in the area who park themselves in the passages.”

Shopkeepers are also unhappy as it has ruined their businesses.

Qana’ati said a special committee now has been formed in the TCC and in future, before implementation of any project, the municipality is obliged to provide detailed information to the committee, which will examine various aspects of the project before decisions are taken.