In the face of unbridled urbanization, where haphazard stretching of boundaries of cities continues, and unplanned housing colonies and commercial zones are being built inside cities; the government’s patronage to tackle this sorry state of affairs is necessary, more than ever now. When designed urbanization ensues, along with many other complications, the factor of environmental stability is rudely ignored.
Two cosmopolitans of Pakistan, Karachi and Lahore, seem to be at the brink of collapse every year whenever Monsoon season sets in. More than 10 million people reside in each of these cities, and this number is being multi-fold over the years. In summer, affluent people constrained in their air conditioned rooms and impoverished submerged in pursuance of earning bread and butter, rarely notice that roadsides and hearts of squares are vacant of any greenery.
In winter, people of Lahore, although stuck in traffic but inundated with flood of tasks do not catch sight of parched canal and dry river. Where, it is recommended that 20% area of almost every city should consist of greenery, both of the cities entail less than 1%.
Amid these challenging times, Punjab government with the assistance of River Ravi Front Authority (RRFA), announced the construction of a new city along the shore of river Ravi. The structure of the city is reminiscent of the city in London situated along the bank of river Thames. The allotted land to this new project is more than 44000 acres. To fund the new enterprise, Asian Developmental Bank (ADB) has already announced the assistance of $ 150 million, and moreover, the government is expecting an investment of Rs 5000 billion by different private companies in the near future.
The boundary of this new city will extend from northeast to southwest i.e. from Lahore towards Sheikhupura. The most encouraging prospect is the large portion of the land which is preserved for tree-plantation and forestation. Through the assistance of private corporations, Special Economic Zones (SECs) will be built, which will provide thousands of Pakistanis with an opportunity to earn their livelihood.
On the face of it, this whole new project, initiated by the Punjab government seems like a pleasant dream, given authorities succeed eventually. River Ravi City will offer breathing space to the people of Lahore living in an overcrowded, mismanaged, and traffic-jammed city. Forestation in River Ravi City, at the least of it, will inspire the authorities of other cities to plant more trees.
This will be the second pre planned city of Pakistan after Islamabad, to be constructed under the auspices of the government; therefore, the overall vistas of it will encourage future governments to initiate more such projects.
To combat the rampant haphazard urbanization in Pakistan, although it looks like a perfect plan to many, but some are criticizing the government’s approach by terming it as “Lahore-centric development”. They argue that the money exhausted on this one project can be more than sufficient to revamp the overhauls of many smaller cities of Punjab.
This criticism to a certain extent seems fair, as PTI came into power by playing on the agonies faced by the people of rural Punjab especially South-Punjab, from where the CM also hails. However, this criticism should not bar the government to stop development in the near vicinities of Lahore, on the contraire, should encourage to start similar projects in the rest of Punjab at the same time.