Tehran Mayor Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf has criticized officials and lawmakers for what he calls “the politicization of air pollution.”
Speaking to the media on Wednesday, the mayor said, “Air pollution is the mother of all of Tehran’s environmental problems. If we genuinely focus on tackling air pollution, tens of other issues will resolve themselves.”
In a rare public admission of the capital’s underdeveloped public transportation system, Qalibaf said expanding the system would be a surefire way of addressing the mounting pollution problems that is cutting the lives of tens of innocent people every day.
He claimed that no other entity is as well-equipped as the municipality to monitor and analyze Tehran’s air quality, and said, “Current strategies to tackle air pollution are ineffective,” ISNA reported.
Elaborating the point, the controversial mayor who has still not openly explained the role of the TM in the killer air pollution crises by issuing construction permits for hundreds of towers and malls over the decade, said the strategies employed by environmental authorities to curb air pollution have failed.
“We need to prevent pollutant concentrations from peaking in the first place, and that includes putting an end to polluting industries,” he said, without mentioning the destructive role of the skyscrapers that have enveloped the capital from almost all sides, especially the western flank of the overpopulated city.
This is while last week, Saeed Motessadi, deputy for human habitats at the Department of Environment, said the organization has adopted “proactive measures” against air pollution.
“The DOE takes measures to check pollutant concentration, rather than wait until pollution peaks and then implement measures to reduce it,” he told ISNA.
There are roughly 7,000 old Paykan taxis plying the streets of the Iranian capital, a fact Qalibaf is surprisingly aware of! “These cars emit pollutants twice their weight,” he said, adding that “we have the laws to curb pollution, the problem is enforcing them.”
In September, the TM announced it would ban all Paykan taxis from commuting the traffic zone starting December 22, but a week later the dilapidated vehicles mostly three-decade old are still roaming the streets.
Official reports suggest that 80% of Tehran’s air pollution is caused by old, substandard vehicles.
Pointing to mismanagement as the root cause of Tehran’s pollution problems, Qalibaf said, “If there’s nobody in the Islamic Republic of Iran willing to step forward and accept the responsibility of solving the pollution crisis, then I will.”
He did not say what had kept him from doing his job and checking the air and noise pollution that has emerged as a health disaster for the capital’s 12 million people. Qalibaf, is Tehran mayor since 2005.
The municipality has the means to effectively end the air pollution problem, provided that “we’re given the legal authority to do what we must.”