Tehran Cannot Stand It Any Longer!
The main problem of Tehran is that its population should be reduced.
Environmental capacity, water and infrastructure issues in this city
Gholamhossein Karbaschi (former Tehran mayor) talks about the effect of
politiciansí contingent decisions on vital resources and the environment.
The effects of the one-time decisions that politicians make to restore
balance to the housing market in big cities can last for centuries. Most of
Tehranís towns were once orchards when yesterdayís politicians ordered their
demolition. Destroying gardens or disrupting the order of nature may take a
year or even a month, but it may take decades for a garden to grow, and it
may take centuries for an ecosystem to form in nature. Unfortunately,
politicians act quite contingently and make decisions to temporarily solve
problems that affect the next few generations. Karbaschi talks about the
effect of politiciansí contingent decisions on vital resources and the
How do you assess the effects of politiciansí sudden and contingent
decisions on the environment? What about the effects of the presidential
decision to give land to mass builders on the environment? Have they taken
into account the side effects of this sudden order?
It is the last year of the incumbent government and it seems that in the
tradition of other governments, it intends to finish its backlog or
unfinished businesses. Like a traveler who in the last minutes of his trip
has to do his backlog immediately. Naturally, many decisions are not taken
into account. As you mentioned, the nature of these works is contingent and
has the potential to become bigger problems in the future, with the
difference that its troubles must be borne by the next government. The order
of the President to the minister of roads and urban development will
definitely have many economic and environmental consequences.
An important question arises in this regard; From where will the land be
provided? If the incumbent government wants to repeat Mr. Mahmoud
Ahmadinejadís policy of handing over deserts and natural resources, there is
no room for debate. The ceded areas had no water, no electricity, no gas, no
infrastructure, no environmental studies, and their side effects were not
considered. Most of these divestitures are without environmental assessments
and studies and lead to irreparable damage. Such actions can have
irreversible effects because their side effects have not been studied.
If such approaches are intended by Mr. Hassan Rouhaniís government, it is in
fact repeating the same path of Mr. Ahmadinejad. I think that in general,
the housing problem in the country is not the housing problem itself.
Housing is a secondary problem that arises from lack of land management and
lack of planning in other sectors of the economy. The main issue of housing
belongs to Tehran. In the whole Tehran Province and its surroundings make up
for 25% of the countryís population. This is because of the centralism that
has taken place over the years, and this government has not done anything
Doesnít the governmentís strategy to transfer land to the mass builders
multiply the problem?
The main problem of Tehran is that its population should be reduced.
Environmental capacity, water and infrastructure issues in this city are
weak. The weather in Tehran is in a very bad condition. Tehranís capacity
has been limited to a certain population. Look at air pollution in Tehran.
As soon as there is a holiday and people leave the city, only a few percent
of the cityís population is reduced, but the problem of pollution is
eliminated. The traffic problem in Tehran will be solved by reducing the
population. The same applies to housing. When a population enters the city
of Tehran, they form a family on their own and birth occurs. This population
wants facilities. This population is attracted to Tehran for work, trade,
sales, health, education, etc., and this population needs school, teacher,
doctor, baker, grocer, and so on.
Therefore, this population is constantly increasing. This is centralism.
Unfortunately, because the government is concentrated only in Tehran, it is
attracting the population of Iran. There is a kind of totalitarian state in
the administrative system of the country. The problem of housing is
spontaneously in Tehran and cities with a population of over 500,000 to one
million. There is no such problem in small towns. The issue of population
and its increase in big cities has caused a housing crisis. In small towns,
the price of construction materials is an issue. Naturally, things like this
happen when they do not see housing in a principled way. If the minister of
roads and urban development wants to act on the orders of the President,
something similar to what happened under Mr. Ahmadinejad will occur again.
If he does not want to act on the orders of the President, he cannot do so.
One has to see where the land of this housing is to be provided. It remains
to be seen what land is available for transfer in Tehran? Where is it going
to be handed over? Do they want to cede the top of the mountain? For
example, the road to Qom or Damavand...
The order of the President to the minister of roads and urban
development will definitely have many economic and environmental
What is the way to reduce the population of Tehran and counter centralism as
a result of increasing environmental indicators? What should be done to
counter transfer of land, creation of new structures and destruction of the
solution is to control the entry of people into a city like Tehran, but it
is not possible to issue visa to control the entry and exit of people. The
solution is to distribute the economic sectors in the country. There are
large parts of the country where the population is being evacuated and on
the other hand the population is overflowing towards cities like Tehran.
While there are environmental facilities, water, air, land, etc. in those
areas for this population. But if governments were to implement land
management programs in a way that would eliminate this focus, naturally the
problem of the environment and infrastructure problems such as water,
electricity, gas, etc. would be reduced, and the housing problem would not
become so acute by itself.
What is the root of politiciansí sudden decisions to ďrestore balance to the
housing marketĒ and have such decisions undergone pre-requisite studies
(especially from an environmental perspective)? You mentioned that the
Rouhani governmentís decision is no different from Ahmadinejadís decision to
cede the mountains and natural areas!
Mr. Rouhaniís government had rightly seen the countryís problems in
resolving the problems of sanctions, UN resolutions, and the nuclear crisis,
and then the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (also known as Iran Nuclear
Agreement). We had serious economic problems then as we do today. The
government made an effort to resolve the issue by striking the JCPOA deal.
The agreement was to some extent successful and, in a way, promising and
could have reached good results.
But with the problems that arose both internally and for the most part the
US government created for us in opposition to the policies of the previous
US administration, we practically could not see the results of the JCPOA.
The government was shaken after the withdrawal of the United States from the
JCPOA. That state of planning and thinking that was far from emotional
debates and populist - if not demagogic Ė slogans could have solved the
problems. But the point is that without thought and planning you cannot
solve the problems of the country and order overnight to increase or
decrease the price of gasoline or transfer land to build housing and
decisions that have been taken without examination of the implications, and
they do not know how to implement them.
I do not think that the Presidentís order to transfer land will solve the
housing problem of the people in Tehran and in the big cities. If the
government wants to solve the problems today, it must take a step that will
cause the least damage to the country. I have said this many times that
there are so many public firms located in Tehran that have nothing to do in
the capital city. All over the world, the location of industries and
companies is based on capacity and need. For example, the center of the
countryís industry and steel is in a certain region. So if anyone wants to
work in the steel industry, they go there. Therefore, if the transportation
industry is to be established somewhere, all matters related to the
transportation industry will be established in that province.
Imagine what the countryís shipping is doing in Tehran. Tehran that has no
sea. There is not even a river in Tehran. So why should a large and long
organization related to shipping and ports with all its affiliates be based
in Tehran? From Chabahar to the Caspian Sea why anyone who has some work to
do should travel to Tehran? This is the situation in all areas and all the
surplus administrative systems are located in Tehran and the same situation
exists in the big cities and metropolises of the country.
These administrative structures related to industries, etc. should be
distributed in all cities of the country. So, for example, the shipping and
port industries should return to the center of this industry. For example,
settle in Hormozgan or Chabahar. This proportion of the situation of
industries and geography can reduce the population burden on Tehran and
reduce the cost of governing this city and solve problems such as housing,
traffic and air pollution, and on the other hand lead to the development of
deprived areas and cities.
Therefore, the creation of jobs and businesses in other provinces will be
solved and the burden and pressure will be removed from Tehran, and the
employee of the shipping office in Tehran will not have a housing problem.
If this does not happen, day by day, Tehran must move towards changes in the
height and city level, and as a result, will face rising cost of housing and
the many urban and environmental, educational, etc. problems.
Most of those who have come to Tehran over the past 50 years have done so
due to the countryís continued educational policies and the unfair
distribution of educational environments. Many families were forced to come
to Tehran because their children came to Tehran to study, and this increase
in population and intercity migration have created new needs in Tehran and,
as a result, further population growth.
During the time of Prime Minister Mir Hossein Mousavi, it was approved that
educational spaces not be expanded in Tehran. If educational spaces did not
expand, a significant part of the population would not enter Tehran. From
the time of Mr. Mousaviís government until now, educational spaces in Tehran
have increased from the private sector to the public sector. Expansion of
educational spaces could be developed in other parts of the country
according to the same policy and prevent population migration. The
government should have taken steps to reduce centralization but this did not
Most of those who have come to Tehran over the past 50 years have done so
due to governmentís educational policies and the unfair distribution of
educational concessions. Many families were forced to come to Tehran because
their children came to Tehran to study, and this increase in population and
intercity migration have created new needs in Tehran and, as a result,
further population growth.
During the period when you were the mayor of Tehran, you tried to expand the
urban green space. The balance between population and green space is now
distorted and of little standard. To what extent can Tehran tolerate such
Tehran can no longer tolerate this situation. The burden and pressure
imposed on Tehran in terms of population settlement has made the situation
in this region of Iran critical. At the time we were focusing on green
space, it was planned for the population that was in Tehran. It was
definitely planned for existing people at that time, not for capacity
building for new people. At that time, in the first government of Mr. Akbar
Hashemi Rafsanjani, in which Mr. Abdollah Nouri was the minister of
interior, a commission was formed in the Ministry of Interior and many
responsible governmental and state institutions were members in it. The
Tehran municipality suggested that the immigration status of this city
should be changed and new migration should be avoided to solve the problems
of this metropolis, and more importantly, migration in Tehran should be
I remember that about 170 large government institutions at that time could
leave Tehran. Private companies had their own story. The solution was that
when these companies left Tehran, a large number of their personnel would
leave Tehran on their own. At that time, I remember that if these companies
were transferred with their personnel, a large number of service personnel
would also be transferred with them. However, if a person is transferred
from Tehran, there are many others who must be transferred next to him. The
calculation at the time was that if these companies and their affiliates
left Tehran at that time, there would be a major shift in Tehranís
Consider that the armed forces in Tehran are so large that it is
unbelievable. The army, the IRGC, the police, the Armed Forces and the
Ministry of Defense are concentrated in Tehran. Some of these forces are
enough to protect Tehran and security issues. But a large part of these
forces can be distributed in the rest of the country. It is not necessary
for the navy and air force to be based in Tehran, for example. The personnel
associated with these forces, soldiers and service forces are so large that
it is worth considering. At that time, Mr. Hashemiís government planned for
this transfer. But the problems that arise for governments call into
question the ability of the state, and sometimes governments have no
authority in these areas. This work remained incomplete. But it was not
resolved in later governments. However, if this relocation takes place, many
of the needs of other cities will be met. Transportation development,
construction of intercity roads, completion of the countryís rail and air
fleet will occur. Telecommunications expands and the quality of Internet
services increases throughout the country. If the government moves to
relocate part of its subsidiary, the private sector will also want to leave
Tehran to improve its quality and reduce costs, and no doubt an important
part of urban problems like Tehran will be solved.
This requires the establishment of sustainable development to be managed in
Iran on the basis of a balanced development and ecological potential.
right. Sustainable development occurs in Iran when land management takes
place and is implemented well. The location of industries should be done
properly and the use of areas should be divided according to ecological
potential. Therefore, population concentration in certain areas such as
Tehran will disappear and by itself with proportional distribution, land
management will be more sustainable and human life in it will be of better