Baku, January 8, AZERTAC
President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev has received Anar Guliyev on the occasion of his appointment as the chairman of the State Committee for Urban Planning and Architecture.
Speaking at the meeting, President Ilham Aliyev said:
- I am appointing you to the post of chairman of the State Committee for Urban Planning and Architecture. You are currently in the position of First Deputy Chairman. This is a great trust placed in you and a great responsibility because based on my instruction the functions of the State Committee for Urban Planning and Architecture have been expanded. Currently, this committee has a special role and importance in organizing the principles of town planning and architecture on a modern basis.
Baku emerged during the period of tsarist Russia and became an industrial city in Soviet times. Of course, the large-scale industrial development had a very adverse impact on the state of environment in our city. Several years ago, on my instruction, large-scale reconstruction and improvement work was launched in Baku. The objective was to turn Baku into a city of parks and squares, and we are achieving this. The people of Baku are seeing this today and it is also acknowledged by foreign visitors. Places and enterprises polluting the environment in Baku are already being liquidated. New public zones meeting modern town planning rules are being established instead. First of all, we have paid attention to the issue of landscaping the Bibi-Heybat bay, draining and cleaning the oil ponds. The Bibi-Heybat bay, which used to represent an environmental disaster, is now a landscaped area, a place of parks. There is a sports center, including the Aquatic Palace, other sports and leisure infrastructure there.
On the other hand, the atmosphere in our city was polluted by the Balakhani dump. We had been facing this bitter reality for decades. The smoke of the garbage burned there poisoned the sky over our city. We have cleaned up that place, built a modern incinerator and a landfill there. A process has long been put in place there to segregate domestic waste, and this area has already become environmentally clean. The project to clean up Lake Beyukshor located in the immediate vicinity of this territory is also of great importance. This place was a zone of environmental disaster as well, because both sewage and produced water used to be dumped there in Soviet times. At the same time, it was used as an oil storage in the open. I believe that the clearing up of a part of Lake Beyukshor is a historic event for the city. Currently, a one-kilometer-long boulevard has been built there, birds land on the lake. This means cleanliness has been fully ensured. I can list other sites as well. One of them is the Black City. Some people forget that while driving through there, we used to roll up the windows because it was impossible to bear this smoke and stench. We have transformed the Black City into a White City. I believe that this is also one of the largest town planning projects on a global scale that meets modern standards. Apartment buildings are already under construction there, public places are being set up. The removal of the Black City and the creation of the environmentally friendly White City in its place is yet another historic achievement of ours.
It was very difficult to live in the neighborhood called “Sovetskaya”. The old buildings placed on top of one another had a very negative impact on the environment and, at the same time, created great problems for those living there and for transport. The roads were 2-3 meters wide. Having done tremendous job, we have relocated people from there and paid them compensation. Some were provided with new homes, while others were given money. The Central Park established there now is one of the most beautiful places in the world. All this is part of the work done. It will take days to list all the work. The work done proves how much attention is being paid to the development of the city of Baku, to cleaning its air and, ultimately, making the lives of its people more comfortable. The Baku boulevard is a beautiful national park with a length of 15 kilometers now. It used to be only 3 kilometers long. The run-down and dilapidated buildings located there have been knocked down. Proper conditions have been created for people. Therefore, the Committee for Urban Planning and Architecture should, first of all, take these factors into account. People’s comfort, the implementation of environmentally friendly projects and full compliance with the rules of town planning should be the main principles.
Unfortunately, the rules of town planning were sometimes grossly violated in the old days. Clumsy and ugly buildings were erected in various places in Baku, contradicting our historical past and not meeting any architectural standards whatsoever. These buildings were constructed in such a way that the overall picture was disfigured, while no town planning factors were taken into account. Recently, on my instruction, especially as a result of replacing the leadership of the Committee for Urban Planning and Architecture, compliance with these rules has begun. Business people should also take this into account. Baku is our historical asset. We cannot allow for the history of our city to be destroyed or for its future to be called into question due to some selfishness or greed. This will categorically not be the case. All business circles and companies involved in construction should know that the practice of constructing buildings and houses wherever possible is already over. All houses and buildings must be built in accordance with the rules of town planning and the architectural appearance of Baku. Therefore, very much attention needs to be paid to this issue. From now on, the city of Baku should develop only on the basis of the Master Plan. Not a single building that does not meet the General Plan should be constructed in Baku. The committee has been given new functions, and not a single building can be constructed without its consent. Executive authorities of districts cannot provide permission for the construction of any building without the consent of the Committee. You must use these functions very efficiently. You should have monitoring groups not only in Baku and major cities, but also throughout the country. Because sometimes lands are seized and buildings are hastily erected on them. Then these buildings and houses are documented in some illegal ways and we are confronted with a fait accompli. Therefore, you should have monitoring groups. I am telling all local executive bodies that not a single building can be built without the conclusion of the State Committee for Urban Planning and Architecture. We must put an end to this.
Of course, similar processes should occur in other major cities of Azerbaijan. This includes the need for drawing up a general plan of Ganja, Sumgayit, Mingachevir, Shirvan and other cities. Our population is growing, economic activity and industry must grow as well. Therefore, very thoughtful steps must be taken in the coming years. In recent years, we have built more than 3,200 schools. But there are also schools where children study in three shifts. Why? Because the population is growing. During the years of independence, it increased by three million people. People can’t find places to build a new school in some places now. Therefore, I have given the instruction and relevant agencies are seriously dealing with these issues, especially in Absheron district – there are major problems there. There are children who study in three shifts. We are currently looking for places for new schools, this is a very serious process. So a growing population means an increasing burden on the entire infrastructure – on transport, on social infrastructure, on the operation of public areas. Therefore, when planning your work on the basis of the general plan, you must take into account the future because our population will continue to grow. The main reason for growth is economic development. Where there is no economic development, the population increases quite rarely. But our economic development will continue to be sustainable. Therefore, it is necessary to calculate all this work in advance.
Particular attention should be paid to the transport infrastructure. In recent years, modern transport hubs have been created in many places where resettlement occurred. Streets are being expanded. Let me go back to the neighborhood called “Sovetskaya” in the past. The width of the streets there did not exceed two meters. Now we have built wide avenues there. The traffic has become so much easier. Transport infrastructure consists not only of roads. Today, our suburban railway transport is entering a new phase. This year, a circular route will also be commissioned, which, of course, will reduce the burden on roads. Therefore, the rules of town planning, transport infrastructure, other communications, the principles of architecture, the preservation of the architectural style inherent in the city of Baku, the improvement of the environmental situation and other factors should always be in the spotlight.
I want to say again: the city of Baku is our national asset. It is one of the most beautiful cities in the world today. There are two reasons for that: first, the way the city is structured, the city’s beautiful historical and architectural monuments, including Icherisheher, the location of our city on the Caspian Sea coast. These sites have existed for centuries. But some are forgetting what their former appearance was – blackened, dilapidated, abandoned and faded buildings. Many years of dirt deposited on the walls of these buildings concealed their true appearance. We carried out all repairs with great skill, without compromising the historical appearance of the buildings. The first factor is that we have turned Baku into one of the most beautiful cities in the world and restored our historical sites. The second factor is modern buildings. These are also architectural masterpieces. For example, a report published in one of the most influential media outlets lists the Heydar Aliyev Center among top 10 most beautiful buildings in the world. In my opinion, it is the most beautiful building in the world. In the Heydar Aliyev Center alone, we see a symbol not only of modern Baku, but also of the whole of Azerbaijan. The Flame Towers, the Crystal Hall, the Carpet Museum, office buildings – all of them embody the modern architecture of Baku. Our main goal, which I set very seriously, was to create a unity of the past and present.
In some historical cities, modern buildings spoil their appearance and are completely inconsistent with their history. Our modern buildings are built in such a beautiful architectural style and in such places that they blend with history. For example, a person leaving ancient Icherisheher and crossing the street finds himself on a modern boulevard, as if traveling from the past into the present. I want to say it again – this is a unique picture. The city should develop and grow, but on the basis of serious principles of town planning. Today, the factors existing in construction must be observed, they must not be violated.
At a meeting with representatives of the intelligentsia some time ago, the chairman of the Union of Architects suggested establishing a central region of Baku. I gave relevant instructions to the Baku City Executive Authority. I am also instructing you – hold a meeting involving the Executive Authority of Baku and the Union of Architects and make joint proposals. A lot of time has passed, but I have not received a single suggestion yet. In principle, I support this suggestion because under such circumstances special protective measures can be taken in the central district in accordance with this district and our architectural sites will receive more attention. As for the construction of new buildings, the rules here should be more stringent. I want to say again that the functions of the Committee are expanding. I appreciate the activities of the Committee in recent times. This factor plays a major role in your appointment to this position. You must realize this responsibility. All construction work throughout our country should be carried out in accordance with modern town planning rules.
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Anar Guliyev: Dear Mr. President, first of all, I want to express my deep gratitude to you for the high confidence placed in me. I view your decision as a recognition of the hard work by the entire team of the State Committee for Urban Planning and Architecture over the past period. For me, it is a great honor and even greater responsibility.
Let me assure you that I will make every effort to justify the trust you have placed in us. I will try to mobilize the full potential of the Committee to fulfill your instructions.
Mr. President, on your initiative and thanks to your great support, serious reforms have recently been carried out in the field of town planning in our country. In accordance with your decisions, orders and instructions, institutional changes and creative work are under way. Progressive international experience is being studied and applied, the effectiveness of public administration is improving and new town planning projects are being implemented.
The organization of town planning is one of the issues that are always in your spotlight. A planned and systematic organization of town planning in accordance with the requirements of law is one of the most important tasks you set for the Committee. Together with colleagues, we try to be guided by these principles in our everyday work.
I would like to express my deep gratitude to you again for the high confidence placed in me. In my turn, let me promise to do everything possible in accordance with the town planning legislation of the Republic of Azerbaijan and under your leadership, to ensure comfortable, healthy and safe living conditions in the capital Baku and other cities. I promise that the Committee will continue to fruitfully cooperation with relevant state bodies for this purpose.
President Ilham Aliyev: I am sure that you will justify this high confidence and abide by the principles I have indicated in your everyday work.
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