People
0

TM Okays Controversial Tower Construction in West Tehran

Based on the national census conducted in 2012, the district was home to 129,000 people but the number has grown exponentially ever since.Based on the national census conducted in 2012, the district was home to 129,000 people but the number has grown exponentially ever since.

Disorganized and unwarranted construction of residential towers in Tehran’s District 22 on the western flank has raised renewed concerns in recent years, particularly regarding their ill effects on the capital’s ever-increasing air pollution.

Urban planners and environmental experts argue that excessive constructions of the high-rises in the overcrowded area interfere with the natural wind flow and result in wind stagnation adding to the pollutants in the metropolis.

District 22, spread over 6,200 hectares in western Tehran, is among the relatively new regions. Major constructions in the area began ten years ago  when Tehran Municipality started issuing construction permits for high-rise towers of 10 to 42 stories in a bid to create housing for the capital’s growing population (around 12 million).

Based on the national census conducted in 2012, the district was home to 129,000 people but the number has grown exponentially ever since. While authorities had envisioned the area would eventually be home to half a million residents by the year 2022, unofficial estimates say the district’s population has already shot over and above that figure.

Addressing the concerns regarding the effect of high-rise buildings on air pollution, the High Council of Architecture and Urban Development passed a directive in October 2014 suspending all new constructions in the district until further notice.

However, last week, the newly-appointed deputy mayor in charge of architecture and town planning, Mahdi Hojjati, said constructions in the district would resume as no valid scientific evidence had been produced regarding the hazardous effects of the towers, Mizan News Agency reported.

“Experts are divided over whether the towers block air flow. Because no such effect has been proved so far, constructions will resume as usual,” he said in his first official address last week.

Environmentalists and residents of the capital, struggling with toxic air, torturous traffic 24/7 and all sorts of urban decay, say the minimum the Tehran Municipality can and must do is to uphold the 2014 suspension until a final verdict by relevant independent authorities.

Ambiguity in the architecture and urban council’s 2014 directive is seen as the major reason for the conflicting message sent by the new deputy mayor. Clause 10 of the directive clearly bans all construction activities in District 22, whereas the  following clause says real estate with an area above 1,000 square meters can apply for construction permits from municipalities on the condition that the latter oversee 70% of the construction.

According to the World Bank’s report on Iran in 2013, an estimated 19,644 deaths a year were attributed to air pollution, translating roughly to 28 in 100,000 persons.

As per the report, PM10 and PM2.5 are the most threatening air pollutants in the exploding Iranian capital as they expose residents to more serious health risks. In fact, Tehran has four times the PM10 pollution concentration which would conventionally be considered as healthy by the WHO (20µg/m3). PM10 particles are less than or equal to 10 micrometers in diameter, so small that they can get into the lungs, causing serious health problems.

Add new comment

Read our comment policy before posting your viewpoints

Financialtribune.com