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Tehran Municipality not responsible for air pollution: mayor

TEHRAN, Dec. 6 (Mehr News Agency) -- Tehran Mayor Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf announced on Tuesday that the Tehran Municipality is studying a comprehensive plan to reconstruct Tehran and to restore its dilapidated buildings.

"We have made some agreements with the Housing Ministry and have held talks with officials from the Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organization and hope to implement our strategies for the coming year in line with the new plan," he told reporters at his first press conference as mayor.

Admitting that no serious progress has been made in Tehran since he was appointed as the new mayor, Qalibaf said that he had spent this time identifying problems and studying ways to solve them.

"Shortcomings in the municipality are more noticeable than in any other organizations, especially since it was separated from the (national) government body and made independent, but we must not expect to solve all the problems in a short period of time."

Elsewhere in his remarks, Qalibaf stated that government funding for the subway is insufficient.

He added that the municipality would continue to provide marriage loans to young couples, although there would be some delays.

Qalibaf also noted that supporting the private sector in the construction of parking lots is one of the most important plans of the Tehran Municipality.

He stressed that the municipality is not responsible for the current high level of air pollution in Tehran, and added that relevant officials should strive to solve the problem.

Last year, air pollution in Tehran rose to a critical level at least four times, he said.

He lamented that the municipality can neither prevent 1250 additional automobiles from entering Tehran's streets every day nor implement the plan to phase out run-down cars.

Schools in Tehran were shut down and sick and elderly people told to stay indoors Tuesday as the city continued to choke on a thick blanket of yellow-brown smog.

Tehran's Air Quality Control Unit said the Pollutant Standard Index (PSI) -- a standard measurement incorporating carbon monoxide, dust, and other pollutants -- has hovered around the "very unhealthy" level of 160 for several days, AFP reported.

Such alerts are becoming increasingly common, with increased traffic causing the sprawling city's air to be deemed unhealthy for at least 100 days of the year. This week the situation is worse due to a total lack of wind.

Many of the two million plus vehicles in the city of 10 million are more than 20 years old and consume cheap subsidized petrol at an alarming rate. Private car ownership has also exploded, with the public transport system failing to provide adequate coverage.

The government has proposed various steps to resolve the problem, such as phasing out the old cars and restricting vehicle use on certain days of the week -- but so far none have been effectively applied.

According to a recent study, each resident of Tehran -- now considered one of the world's most polluted cities -- inhales an estimated 7.1 to 9.3 kilograms (15.6 to 20.5 pounds) of dust every year.

... Payvand News - 12/7/05 ... --

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