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Cities in for Major Overhaul

Cities in for Major OverhaulCities in for Major Overhaul

The government plans to enforce laws to curb haphazard constructions in urban and rural areas, and also address the growing phenomenon of informal settlements in outlying areas, said Houshang Khandandel, deputy interior minister for urban-rural infrastructure and development affairs, in a recent gathering of technical heads of provincial governors’ offices in Shiraz.

Unofficial settlements of migrants and poor families on the outskirts of metro cities, at both local and national levels, have become a common feature in the country’s landscape.

Informal settlements are caused by low income, unrealistic urban planning, lack of serviced land and inadequate social housing, and a dysfunctional legal system. They are usually found on the periphery of cities, public parks, or near railroad tracks, rivers, lagoons or city trash dump sites. Sometimes called a squatter, informal or spontaneous settlement, such settlements often lack proper sanitation, safe water supply, electricity, hygienic streets, or other basic human necessities.

“At the local level, the municipalities are entrusted with the task of addressing the problem; whereas at the national level, the decision will be taken by a strategic council formed in association with the ministries of interior and roads and urban development and other concerned bodies,” ISNA quoted Khandandel as saying.

The plan, if approved by the government, will be implemented in two cities as a pilot project before being adopted throughout the country, he said.

 Guidelines

Referring to another comprehensive plan to address the changes in building use, he urged the technical departments at governors’ offices to oversee urban design guidelines as well as the execution of construction projects throughout the country.

In addition to the conventional authority in construction projects comprising consultants, owners, and supervisors, the official suggested that the technical departments could also play the role of “an impartial supervisory body to report faulty construction practices.” These reports could then be investigated by authorities at the provincial or national levels, as the case demands, he added.

As part of the changes to government’s executive authority in provinces, Khandandel said the office of the vice-presidency for Strategic Planning and Supervision “will soon be establishing provincial branches.”

Deputy Director of Municipalities and Rural Offices Organization Ali Nozarpour, referring to the bill on urban management drafted by the ministry of interior which will “replace the current Municipality Act once approved,” said it was time for the government to decentralize administration and allow “local authorities to handle matters pertaining to local affairs.”

 Punishable

Pointing out that the numerous municipal commissions in charge of implementing the Municipal Act have been unable to “fully enforce their duties and prevent violation of the act’s clauses,” the official said as per the new urban management bill, illegal constructions which threaten people’s lives will be considered “as criminal, punishable with 3 to 6 months imprisonment.”

He also pointed to the white paper on Urbanology, dealing with the problems in large cities, and prepared by the newly-appointed committees of the ministry of interior and ministry of roads and urban development.

“The document is on six main topics including: urban environment services, transportation planning, budget, socio-cultural environment, organization and management, and town planning,” the official added.

Financialtribune.com