A Case Study of Traffic and Pollution Problems in Tajrish District
by Mahban Ketabi
After Islamic Revolution in 1979 and following the 8-years war with Iraq, the population nearly doubled, causing tremendous environmental and socio-economic problems for the city. Amongst these problems, air pollution is of major concern since the quality of air has deteriorated to a level, which ranks Tehran among the worst polluted cities in the world. Due to these facts, many problems, especially heavy traffic, air pollution and urban poverty have occurred.
It seems that directing this city out of these problems needs a national consensus and proper management. Unessential and irregular development of this city is based upon alien models and so the city we call Tehran today is nothing but a â€œdeformed megalopolisâ€ and the available potentialities and standing services are disproportional to the increasing population.
The main goal of this paper is to offer a picture of sustainable development in Tehran megalopolis whit emphasis on the northern most part of Tehran: Tajrish.
Air pollution in Tehran is increasing due to rapid increase in population and industrial development. Twenty years ago, about 98.7% of the population of the city lived in Municipality of Tehran (MOT) area but in recent years it has decreased to 67%and about 33% of the population has moved to the suburbs. The growth of the population in MOT over a period of 110 years is shown in Figure 1.
In this paper both library and field research are applied, however the predominant method is based on case study. The issue of sustainable development in Tehran will be presented in three steps. First, the concept of sustainable development is defined and briefly explained. Then the main features of the city of Tehran â€”the capital of Iran- are demonstrated. Afterwards the problems of traffic and pollution in Tajrish, north of Tehran are analyzed. Finally some ways to go out of the dilemmas are discussed, in the form of some definite proposals such as reviving the historical identity of the district, developing the public transportation network, extending the green area, designing ways for pedestrians and cyclists and improving the quality of the urban scenery. Tehran, A malformed megalopolis Tehran is the capital and the largest city of Iran-the second most populous city in the Middle East after Cairo-located in the northern part of the country with an elevation of 1100-1700 meters above the see level, with a longitude and latitude of 51 E and 35 N respectively. It is not located on the banks of a river or even close to see, mountains surround the city from north to the east, this situation prevents the air circulation.
The city is divided into 22 districts. The total area of the city is 700 kmÂ². Itâ€TMs annual mean rainfall is about 230 mm. Tehran with so many acute problems, caused mainly by using means of transportation, unfortunately has a priority to be studied and its problems to be solved, in the first hand ecologically. Because of this, Tehran in future would act as an â€œEnvironmental Bombâ€ .
The WRI /WHO study found that children under 5 years old are at great risk from air pollution in these top 10 cities (ranked in order of risk magnitude): Mexico city, Beijing, Shanghai, Tehran, Calcutta, Bombay, Delhi, Tianjin, Manila and San Paulo.
The statistics given at â€œThe 1st symposium of healthy citiesâ€ , 1991, (Tehran), was really frightening for Tehran itself and for the world. How can a city with so many acute and fundamental problems exist without endangering the worldâ€TMs health?
Time SO2 NO NO2 Nox CO O3 PM-10
Time PPB PPB PPB PPB PPM PPB Âµg/m3
October 1995 – September 1996 63.4 61.3 49.9 110.5 7.9 24.8 123.2
March 1995 – March 1996 61.7 60 24.2 84.2 4.9 15.21 71.7
March 1999 – March 2000 55.4 64 21.8 85.8 6.3 17.1 94.7
March 2000 – October 2001 57 46.7 36.6 83.3 5.8 16.4 68.4
WHO Standard 17-26 — — —- —- — 60-90
USA Standard 35 — 60 —- —- — 50/50
Japan Standard 20 — 20-30 —- —- — 50
Fig 3.Variations of Air pollution parameters during between 1995-2001 in Tehran 
<<< Table 1 >> From environmental point of view, traffic in Tehran has assumed dangerous dimensions. Three combined factors have been responsible for this situation:
Rapid increase of population, insufficient transportation infrastructure and extraordinary increase in the number of vehicles intensified by the pollution effects of old cars. These factors necessitate immediate action in order to improve the already disastrous situation of traffic and its environment consequence.
Here are some proposals to diminish the problems:
* A- Public transportation all over the city
o 1-Saving the city texture from â€œfragmentationâ€
o 2-Making it possible to use several roads to get to any destination
o 3-Avoiding to use private cars
o 4-Completing the Tehranâ€TMs public transportation network
* B-Cultural and social activities
o 1-Improving the traffic personal education on all levels
o 2-Informing the drivers and passengers by mass-media about the existing public transportation network
o 3-Furnishing all bus-stops, providing clean buses and preparing timetables for guiding passengers
* C-Extending green areas consistently over the city
* D-Paying attention to conserving of the past reminiscences and peopleâ€TMs memories in solving the traffic problems
* E-Dividing the municipality districts into smaller areas and forming NGOs with the co-operation and supervision of district municipalities
Different efforts were made in the past with an aim to resolve traffic problems in Tehran, and ultimately a part of the problems resolved by initiating some divisions of Tehranâ€TMs subway, but the problems seem to be very extensive so that many more problems are still remained to be done and the relevant in-charge officials are trying to complete line 1 of the subway and connecting it to the northern divisions of the city as soon as possible.
Figure 4 shows that line 1 of Tehranâ€TMs subway has already been driven to Mir-Damad subway station and it is scheduled to reach vicinity of Tajrish square during the next years.
At present the inhabitants of the northern parts of Tehran have to use the existing highways to catch the nearest subway station; therefore there will be a lot of traffic in these areas.
Construction of Tajrish subway station and planning to serve passengers with more services will certainly reduce shortcomings of Tehran traffic. As it is noted in the first part of my paper, I am going to focus on Tajrish in this case study; the reasons for this choice are:
1. Choosing this district for establishment of the terminal subway station in the north of Tehran
2. Suitable and unique historical, religious, recreative, commercial and environmental situation of Tajrish district
3. Familiarity and extensive communication with the relevant site and making an all-out examination of it in the course of urban planning
Tajrish, A beautiful memory of old Tehran
Tajrish is located at the center of Shemiran. This district is 14 kilometers north of the old Tehran and 1500 meters high from the sea level.
Tajrish has always been known for its beautiful and plentiful gardens. Many of the famous tourists and explorers like Marco Polo, the well-known Italian world traveler, has talked about the old-oriental plane tree of Tajrish, which is located in Salehâ€TMs holy shrine.Those days Tajrish had a very clean air and climate, but now it is one of the most polluted areas of the â€œGreat Tehranâ€ . Unlike the old Tehran, which has had the nicest and cleanest climate, now Tajrish has been filled with heavy traffic and skyscrapers, which have lowered the quality and the living standards of this beautiful district.
Nowadays, far from those old beauties, the big and crowded-bus station in Tajrish is source of pollution. Many of those old and traditional buildings have been remodeled or destroyed. It is the duty of our new generation to revive those beauties, cleanliness and traditions of this district; If not Tajrish will go deeper down to its pollution, smoke and more ugly buildings.
Fig 5. Tajrish, Public Parking and Bus-Stop (photo by: Ketabi)
Fig 6.Tajrish Square, the picture showing disharmonies in urban facades, 2003, (photo by: Ketabi)
Fig7.Air quality in district 1 in MOT and Tajrish area [Tehranâ€TMs municipality, 2002]
Fig 8. Map of Tajrish, 1996, (cartography by: Tehran municipality)
Tajrish and sustainable development
Sustainable development is related to 3 basic factors:
In the following section, in regards with those above-mentioned subjects, we are going to talk about Tajrish area and look for solutions for traffic problems.
Without any exaggerations, the traffic problem in Tehran and Tajrish are one of the major city problems that end up to more environmental pollutions. Many solutions have been suggested, but the best one could be the completion of line 1 of subway that will reach to Tajrish. In addition, Tajrish has positive and valuable memorials, but we have also destroyed many of its famous monuments. Destructions of Salehâ€TMs holy shrine boundaries and cutting its famous oriental-plane tree are definite examples of them.
Fortunately there has been some cooperation between the city officials and Shahid Beheshti University to find better and more reasonable solutions for this district. I would like to emphasize that we should not ignore the NGOâ€TMs role in this matter.
Fig 9.Map of Tehran subway lines. [Tehranâ€TMs municipality, 2002]
Solutions for traffic problems in Tajrish district
1. Completing the line 1 of subway and designing the station in Ghods square and Tajrish area lead to:
1. Decrease in need for bus-stop area and hence decrease in environmental pollutions
2. Decreasing the number of private cars by putting entry fee for Tajrish district
3. Facilities for the access of the northern area to subway terminal
1. Designing a footway along the Shahrdari Ave and designing the underpass for automobiles
2. Making a footway connection between the eastern and western parts of the river passing through Tajrish reviving the memory of the old bridge in Tajrish
3. Diversing the traffic of area and directing it to parallel paths to decrease the traffic burden, provided that residential zone is not damaged
4. Improving the paths for pedestrians and automobiles, with emphasis on footways
5. Regarding the sequence of spaces (Linkage theory) Maintaining the connection between two squares – Ghods and Tajrish-and the main road linking them
6. Designing the green areas and making facilities for pedestrians and cyclists lead to:
1. Decrease in environmental pollutions
2. Proper relationship between people and nature
3. Setting up a public place for people to meet each other and rest
4. Linking the urban texture with green areas
Trying to solve the problem of traffic will not be enough, as long as the urban scenery gets worse day by day. These kind of superficial solutions are like running a glass elevator among the garbage.
Main goals and Objectives in urban planning section
1. Reviving the historical identity of Tajrish
2. Improving the quality of the artificial circumference
1. Improving the quality of peopleâ€TMs subjective view. for example: reviving the historical tree in Salehâ€TMs holy shrine
2. Improving the quality of the
3. Promoting the quality of field of different activities, morphology, the acquaintance with setting and designing the location the patterns of present residences of occupations consistent with the and preserving them atmosphere and historical background of Tajrish,such as peddlers for the Iranian New Year or old shopkeepers
4. Improving the quality of objective scenery
1. Presenting scientific standards for preventing disharmonies in urban facades
2. Using suitable patterns, not merely copying from old patterns
3. Making special marks in special points In designing or renewing the buildings, for example constructing the subway terminal, these points must be considered: 1-Heating with the sun energy 2-Using renewable energy 3-Using local materials 4-Using natural materials 5-Saving our plants and trees 6-Recycling the materials 7-Respect for past architecture
World population would not be a problem if there were unlimited land, and unlimited resources such as water,air. Unfortunately, with overpopulation, there is the problem of sharing the same sized pie with smaller and smaller portions. Urban growth has brought several major concerns about the future of cities, notably what may be defined as their sustainability. A sustainable city must offer to its population a suitable urban environment, employment, food, housing and transportation without compromising the welfare of the future population of that city.
Iran and other third world countries have similar problems in their future development plans. Fortunately Iranian history, its successful past and available tools have given us hope to overcome those obstacles. We should never separate human being from its nature and environment. If we ignore or eliminate this factor – connection between those two elements – our major future plans would be doomed to fail. We must focus on this point that human being should always be at the center of any basic plan or development.
Special thanks to Dr Ali Ghafari because of his contributions. Trying to realize the peopleâ€TMs subjective elements.
- Mahban Ketabi, Shahid Beheshti University, Iran
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