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For Security and Admnistrative Reasons: Plan to Move Capital From Tehran Finalized


By Maryam Ahamdi, Rooz Online

In a gathering of administrative and human resources managers from across the country, interior minister Mostafa Mohammad-Najjar announced the finalization of plans to move the capital from Tehran: "The plan to move the capital has been on the table for years, but in this administration we are serious about implementing it."

The metropolis of Tehran houses about 10 million people.

Criticizing the capital's current condition, Mohammad-Najjar emphasized, "The plan to move the capital is serious for security, crisis-management, population and environmental issues gripping Tehran."

He pointed to the administration's decision last spring to move 163 state firms to the provinces, adding, "We must help to achieve this goal, and not let the plan to transfer clerks, firms and agencies to outside Tehran end in defeat."

The plan to move the capital has been discussed many times in prior years. Policymakers considered the option in both 1364 and 1368, following the end of the Iran-Iraq war, as a possible solution to problems surrounding Tehran. In the end, however, they opted for a plan to renovate Tehran rather than to move the capital. The plan was discussed once again the in early 1370s to no end. Finally, last year, the Expediency Council voted to consider the possibility of moving the capital from Tehran.

View of Tehran from Milad Tower

One month after the Expediency Council's decision, the representative from the city of Shahroud in the Majlis named Shahroud as one of the main candidates to replace Tehran as the capital. Previously, the city of Semnan was named as a potential candidate too. Kazem Jalali, who serves on the eighth Majlis' national security committee, told reporters that three destinations are in contention to replace Tehran as the capital, though he did not release the names of the destinations.

On February 6, 2010, during a visit to an emergency shelter in western Tehran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced that an earthquake is imminent and warned against the potential damage. Noting that a quarter of residents in Tehran have the means to relocate to other parts of the country, he asked the capital's residents to seriously consider migrating from Tehran. On April 20, the science minister announced a plan to relocate several universities from Tehran to avoid damages from a potential earthquake.

Then Ahmadinejad suggested that 5 million residents should migrate out of Tehran, and on May 19, the cabinet released the names of 163 state agencies and firms that must relocate out of Tehran.

So far, the president's special aides in implementing the capital relocation plan have ordered three ministries to work on reducing the number of students in Tehran by relocating them to other cities. The ministry of science, research and technology, ministry of health, and ministry of education have been ordered to implement plans to reduce university capacity in Tehran and lower admission bars for universities in other cities.

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