Tehran City Council Rejects Government Proposal to Move Iran’s Capital

Tehran City Council has rejected a proposal by the government to change the country’s capital city, Mohsen Hashemi Rafsanjani, the chairman of the council, told reporters on March 4.

“All previous governments considered moving the capital city. They even allocated money and resources to study the idea,” Mr. Rafsanjani said. “First Vice President Eshagh Jahangiri attended today’s council meeting during which we informed him of our objection to the proposal.”

He added: “It would be more helpful if the government invested money in the city so that we can develop Tehran.”

Iran’s Energy Ministry and its Ministry of Industry, Mining and Trade previously opposed the idea.

In September 2018, the President’s Center for Progress and Development of Iran (CPDI), unveiled a plan to change the country’s capital city. A report by the center warned that Tehran’s population would increase by 20 million in the next 30 years, making it next to impossible to manage the city.

The Majlis (Iranian Parliament) approved a proposal for urban planning and development of Tehran 25 years ago. However, people in the city continue to struggle with the high cost of living and a housing shortage. Those in favor of moving the capital argue that the city of Tehran cannot cope with its existing problems let alone function as the country’s political and financial center.

Moving the country’s capital would mean that 40 government agencies and 60,000 employees would have to relocate to another city. In addition, nearly half a billion dollars in salaries and wages would leave Tehran’s economy.

Those opposing the idea believe that moving the capital would do little to solve Tehran’s problems.

Former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his cabinet pushed for the idea in 2012. The Majlis even approved the establishment of a council to elect a new capital city, but the government did not pursue the idea any further.

Three years earlier, Mr. Ahmadinejad had proposed moving all government employees to another city, but few supported the idea.

[Translated from Persian by Fardine Hamidi]