People, Environment

Tehran is Exploding, Beyond Redemption

Tehran is Exploding, Beyond RedemptionTehran is Exploding, Beyond Redemption

The population explosion in the metropolis of Tehran along with the massive building boom calls for immediate attention at the national level “as the city has surpassed its capacity and the situation is getting worse by the day,” warned Mehrdad Hashemzadeh Homayouni, a member of the Urban Planning Council at the Iranian Society of Consulting Engineers (IRSCE).

Experts say the city has a population capacity of not more than 6 million and environmentalists put the figure at around 4 or 5 million people, Fararoo News Agency quoted Homayouni as saying. According to the minister of roads and urban development, Tehran’s population is 15 million in the wider metropolitan area, while the Tehran mayor says it stands at 12 million.

The population statistics of Tehran has never been reported in authentic numbers and the conflicting figures are the major reason for the city’s growing problems. Various experts have different opinions. A good deal of the predicament Tehran faces today stems from the population density with an average of 1.6 people per room in the houses across the city.  Public services, industry, and civic facilities are not designed in proportion to the city’s infrastructural capacity. Walking through the neighborhoods south of Azadi Street (where the middle and low income classes reside) will reveal the abundant problems vis-a vis green spaces, schools, and other public utilities.


Many of the conflicts today among people are over parking spaces in neighborhoods and public streets. Prior to the current situation, downtown and southern parts of the city used to be famous for close neighborly relations. “Today, however, hostility has replaced such bonds and crowded and congested spaces besides unrestrained constructions have turned streets and spaces that were once a playground for kids, into parking lots.”

There is no easy way out of the present crisis. Major policy decisions are needed to arrest the situation and long-term urban planning is necessary if the city is going to be exploited further as it has long surpassed its normal capacity,” Homayouni stressed.

In spite of the numerous objections by architects and urban planners against the trend and pace of building constructions, the relevant authorities are paying no heed. In 2012-2014 the “construction permits issued were five times the city’s capacity.”

“Paying lip service to Tehran’s plight is hollow. Stringent rules coupled with strict monitoring on building constructions are imperative,” he added.

 Urban Decay

Tehran is Iran’s largest city and its population has been steadily growing over the last few decades. “It is now around 8.5 million in the 1,000 sq km area,” says the online worldpopulationreview. The mean age of Tehran is 31.2 compared with the national mean age of 27.9.

The city as a whole is growing in terms of population numbers and economy. In 2008, it was the least expensive capital city in the world in relation to cost of living; today, with rapid rising prices the city is 56th globally on the GDP scale. Tehran is also one of the world’s busiest cities in regards to traffic. Mercer’s 2015 Global City Quality of Life Rankings has placed Tehran 203 in the world rankings in the quality of urban life.

With the growing population, the areas suffering most are the south and east – the newer parts are still catching up in terms of population numbers. “Old Tehran,” with its traditional buildings, ancient bazaars and other architectural treasures still remains and is a big contrast to the cosmopolitan parts, mostly in the northern wealthy areas - where the newest and more upper class housing and shopping malls are being developed, destroying the beautiful landscapes and the environment.