Urban Planning Should Top TCC, TM Agenda

In 2006 Tehran City was home to 7.7 million people while the population grew to nine million in 2016.In 2006 Tehran City was home to 7.7 million people while the population grew to nine million in 2016.

As the new mayor of Tehran, Mohammad Ali Najafi takes office and the  Tehran City Council (TCC) convenes under the chairmanship of Mohsen Hashemi Rafsanjani, some points are worthy of attention.

An expert in safety, security and disaster management, who is also a board member at the International Institute of Seismology, is of the opinion that the Tehran Municipality and TCC “need to move soon on key issues” before it is too late.

“The subject of disaster management first demands pre-emptive measures, not addressing the problem after the incident,” Mahdi Zare told ISNA.

Since the 7.5-magintude earthquake which hit Manjil and Rudbar cities in June 1990 and killed 35,000 people and injured 105,000, the government has taken some measures to improve disaster response infrastructure.

Stricter regulations for controlling the quality of construction and building earthquake resistant buildings were some of the measures after the killer quake in Bam (2003) in Kerman Province. However, they were all soon forgotten and little if anything is known about the stringent rules and whether or not they are still enforced.

Zare also discussed some measures the TCC and the municipality should put on top on their agenda.

The capital is long struggling with overpopulation and all the associated problems, he recalled, adding that in 2006 Tehran City was home to 7.7 million people while the population grew to nine million in 2016.

“It should not be forgotten that the population during daytime is much higher since many residents from the surrounding areas of the sprawling capital (about 4.5 million people) commute to Tehran for work,” he said.

“Under the conditions, no matter how much public facilities improve, they simply cannot and will not meet the demand of the high and growing population,” Zare stressed.

Restoration of distressed areas and worn-out constructions is another issue which demands serious consideration by city planners and decision makers. Over the last ten years attempts were made to address the matter but the seemingly positive measures created new problems: mass construction without regard for adequate green spaces tailored, or hazards construction in or near earthquake zones.

As per data released by Ministry of Road and Urban Planning in 2016, there are 979 towers in the city, 480 of which were built during the last ten years, he said. “A third of them are located on or in the vicinity of fault lines.”

  Earthquake Risk

Haphazard construction of hospitals across the metropolis is another issue which also  has not received much attention. In case of an earthquake people in some districts will have immense problems in finding a hospital while search and rescue teams will also not come to their aid in time.

“As many high-rises have been built in narrow streets and alleys across the city. If and when disaster occurs rescue teams will not be able to even get close to the affected areas to save lives,” Zare said.

He was echoing one of the most important concerns of the people and officials alike, especially in the upscale northern districts where skyscrapers have popped up like wild mushrooms posing a monumental danger if natural disaster strikes.

The scale of human and material loss Tehran will suffer if there is an  earthquake has not been thoroughly evaluated yet, however based on the statistics of earthquakes in other countries with almost the same conditions as of Tehran, if a quake hits during day time, 1% to 10% of the population will die. If the tremor strikes during nighttime, it can wipe out between 10% to 40% of the population in Tehran. The casualty and damage can be more depending on the epicenter of the tremor.

Zare says the inherent and structural problems of the city cannot be solved overnight. “It also cannot be addressed by political replacement of managers. What is actually needed is step-by-step scientific measures that can deliver.”

Add new comment

Read our comment policy before posting your viewpoints