Mahlouji Garden a Thing of the Past

Mahlouji Garden a Thing of the Past Mahlouji Garden a Thing of the Past

More trees are facing a silent death; this time in Velenjak, at the end of Masjed-e Jam’e (congregational mosque) alley in Mahlouji Garden.

As locals of the peaceful neighborhood say, the garden in an area of 22,000 square meters, belonged to a person named Mahlouji and that is why, to this day, it is called Mahlouji Garden; even after it was sold by his heirs to a big real estate developer who has remained anonymous, Alef news website reports.

For years the garden was a place for the previous owners to escape from the hustle and bustle of the city and a vital element to the beauty and pleasant weather of the locality.

What is seen today, however, is the dying trees in front of the people’s eyes; many are worried and some indifferent. The majority of the residents in the vicinity of the garden complain of the excavations by gigantic machinery and other activities that cause irreparable damage to the trees and plants as the construction work has exposed the roots and put the trees in danger of early death.

The harm is done despite the fact that all the trees in Mahlouji Garden are officially registered and have ID tags but lack of maintenance and irrigation, has led to the gradual death of the trees; and scores are being felled.

Agha Seyyed, an elderly local who has been living in a house right opposite the garden for over 50 years speaks of, what he firmly says, “arson four years ago which started from four different sides of the garden.” He points to the illegal excavation operation two years earlier, which has now stopped after the “consistent objections from the neighborhood residents.”

 Several nights he has observed attempts by unknown people to “kill the trees by pouring gasoline and diesel” at their base or chopping them indiscriminately.

 Construction Dangers

He warns about the consequences of constructing a tower in a 10-meter wide alley, especially in case of a natural disaster or an unexpected incident; as access to the place will be near impossible.

Another person whose father has been the gardener of the place asserts that Mahlouji Garden “has a water well” as well as the “permit to use water from the Velenjak spring,” so it is impossible to claim that the garden has dried naturally.

He hopes the garden will not end up “transforming to towers the way Bagh-e Shaater at Imam-zadeh Qasem, Chehreh Ghaazi garden, or Mojdeh and Asef districts in Zaferaniyeh have.”

The negligence of district and the municipality officials and disregard of numerous complaints by local residents about the plight of the garden have worsened the problem.

The head of the environment commission in Tehran City Council, Mohammad Haghani, says “there is no resolve in the municipality to save the old gardens and green spaces.”

According to the legislation for building constructions in gardens, only 30% of the area can be built up and 70% must remain intact.

Yet, in practice, “the reverse is observed and the builders tend to demolish 70% of the green space to construct parking, swimming pools, etc,” Haghani maintained.

He further added that some of the permits issued by the municipality do not observe the 30% criterion for constructions and carry out 100% excavation.

 Massive Destruction

He pointed out that the situation of gardens and green spaces in the past two decades has deteriorated and over 5,000 hectares have been destroyed.

“Only a small part of the garden has been given to the municipality for turning into a park, now called Sasan Park, and the rest is left to the builders for construction purposes; which ironically costs the destruction of so many trees.

Meanwhile, head of public relations at district 1 municipality, Kazem Davoudi, said apart from 70% of the area which has been made a park for public use, construction permit has been issued for the remaining 30%.

The building project should be in accordance with the regulations, he said.He claimed that the reports on “pouring gasoline on the trees are sent to the concerned authorities for necessary action to be taken.”

Obviously, Mahlouji Garden is dying as there are no signs of its fruit trees in sight. To withdraw the construction permit and stop the killing of the trees might be a step towards healing the wounds that real estate brokers have caused; a process which will certainly take many years. Provided of course the building permit is cancelled in the first place.