A project to enhance the appearance of Iraq's cities and introduce a spirit of friendly competition among them began this month at the behest of the Ministry of Science and Technology.
The idea for the "My City is More Beautiful" project came from a large scale beautification campaign in Samarra which the ministry's Salaheddine affairs section had organised in partnership with city residents, said Haidar Rashad, deputy director of the ministry's provincial affairs directorate.
A special committee was then created to draft the mechanisms to run it successfully, he said. He added further, "This committee will handle collaboration and co-ordination with all relevant parties in the provinces, such as directorates, institutions, municipal councils, governors and local administrations."
In its first phase, which is now under way, the project will focus on general cleanliness by raising awareness about its importance among all segments of society, Rashad added.
Other phases of the project will include maintaining a green belt and green areas around and inside cities and urging the public to remove anything that trespasses on public properties such as pavements, roads, real estate, electricity grids and water and sewage networks, he said.
He also stated, "We will make further efforts towards lessening the cement blocks and barriers which obstruct the smooth flow of traffic in the streets and distort the general outlook of the cities."
Other issues posing a public health hazard also will be addressed under the plan, such as the spread of stray animals and the slaughtering of cattle in the streets and public squares, he added.
Shared service projects, such as the construction of model recycling plants and new roads, gardens and parks also are being considered in order to "drive up the project to higher levels of action", he said.
Karbala Plan is on its way
Director Hamed Obaid Abdullah said that Karbala environment directorate is preparing to work alongside the science and technology department in the province to ensure the project's success through "numerous activities and joint efforts."
He further told, "We will be completely ready to participate and work together to apply the project in the cities of Karbala province."
The project falls in line with the directorate's goal "of uplifting the state of the environment in the province through collaboration with the local government and service departments", he said.
"There is a strategic project within the same framework which involves preparing a restructuring plan for the city of Karbala that includes the re-planning of its urban development in accordance with international standards," he said.
Under this plan, he added, all industrial activities and sources of pollution would be relocated to areas outside the city centre, in order to improve the downtown area's appearance and appeal. The "My City is More Beautiful" project will spark competition among the cities for attaining the best appearance, said Iraqi MP Kamila al-Musawi, who serves on the parliamentary services and reconstruction committee.
Al-Musawi called on all government bodies to work together to make the project successful, and appealed to Iraqi citizens to "help in making their cities clean and oppose all violations and environment-damaging practices".