EghtesadOnline: One of the biggest missions of President Hassan Rouhani’s administration is to implement its urban revitalization plan for reducing distressed urban areas and improving the quality of life of their residents, the minister of roads and urban development said.
“One-third of Iran’s urban population lives in distressed areas, so the urban revitalization plan is a priority for the next 20 years,” Abbas Akhoundi was also quoted as saying by IRNA on Friday.
Nariman Mostafaei, director general of the ministry’s National Headquarters for Urban Regeneration, had previously confirmed this figure, saying about a third of the urban population accounting for 59.14 million, or nearly 20 million people (one-fourth of the total population that is about 80 million), lives either in distressed areas or informal settlements.
Speaking at a meeting in Semnan Province attended by provincial officials and the province’s representatives in the parliament, Akhoundi emphasized that in implementing the government’s initiative, the main focus must be on neighborhoods as entities that give their residents a unique identity, Financial Tribune reported.
“Statistics show that social crime is rife in distressed areas so eliminating the challenges facing these areas will make the cities more secure,” Akhoundi said, stressing that these efforts should not exacerbate the culture of living in the city’s outskirts.
The minister reiterated that he is in favor of reducing the government’s role in the construction sector and basically decreasing government intervention. He said it would be to no avail to forcefully include the government in areas where people are capable of mounting efforts themselves.
In the same vein, Akhoundi called on them to increasingly participate in revitalizing their neighborhoods.
“The government must in no way intervene in the process of constructing new homes and entities providing services concerning urban revitalization must be given more attention,” he said.
Akhoundi believes that a spirit of unity can boost quality of life in troubled distressed areas and that people will move in the same direction as the government if it is proven to them that the urban revitalization plan is pursuing a positive and practical goal.
“The government and municipalities must act as providers of infrastructural services and citizens must be the main agents of reviving distressed urban areas by engaging in construction funded by bank loans.
The minister also spoke about the northern province of Semnan and said all cities in the province contain historical sites that need special attention. He cited figures from the provincial head of the Roads and Urban Development Organization indicating that 34% of people in Semnan live in distressed areas.
Akhoundi, the executor of the government’s urban revitalization plan, has long called on the administration to reduce top-down interventions aimed at solving challenges facing major metropolitan areas and to instead engage the public more to overcome them.
As part of the initiative, the government is pursuing several agendas, including better allocation of funds from Bank Maskan, the agent bank of the housing sector, and offering incentives to builders in distressed urban areas. The administration intends to help builders realize the actual needs of people with low purchasing powers in distressed areas.