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In the absence of town planning law!

Cities are accommodating more than 54 percent of the global population and by the 2050; thisfigure will strike to 66 percent. Asia alone has 2.11 billion urban populations, which makes Asian region pinnacle among other regions on globe. Over the last decade, Asia has become omphalos for world economy by imparting 33 percent of the global output. Globally there are 31 Mega Cities with population over 10 million and propitiously southern segment of globe has 24 world mega cities.
Pakistan has emerged as rapidly urbanizing country and manifested fastest rate of urbanization in south Asian Courtiers. According to 2017 Population and Housing Census Pakistan has two Mega Cities Karachi and Lahore having population 14.9 million and 11.1 million. In addition to that, Pakistan is home for 8 Metropolitan cities with more than 1 million population. Alacritous pace of urbanization in Pakistan is good omen and a potential venue for economic development if we see this ballooning phenomenon from urban planning lens. Consequently, the unprecedented pace of urbanization and absence of urban planning system in Pakistan are prompting the ill planned development on green fields, overburdening on existing urban social infrastructure, acute shortage of decent housing and proliferation of urban slums and katchi abadis.
The incumbent government has launched 5 million housing program for the homeless, lower and middle-income crust of the population. Meticulously, it seems as a daunting challenge to provide the colossal amount of habitable housing units in 5-year term. The sitting prime minister has constituted high level expert committee to develop a stratagem and planning framework for the accomplishment of affordable housing agenda. Dolorously, the eminent and veteran urban planners of the country are missing in high-level expert committee for Naya Pakistan Housing Program. Housing is purely a subject of urban planners and there is dire need to see this issue from urban planning lens. Principally, the success of housing program is annexed with sustainable planning of cities for future generations.
Cities are powerhouses and locomotives, which drive the economies of the countries worldwide. At this juncture of urban world, cities has gained the status of Global Cities or World Economic Centers which direct international trades and act as hubs of innovations. Internationally, it is established that urbanized countries have meteoric economic growth and human development. Contrary to that, Pakistan’s GDP growth is stagnant from past decades and not harmonized with unprecedented rate of urbanization.
Sixth largest populous and rapidly urbanizing country in the world with 71 year age still don’t have Town and Country Planning Act at federal as well as provincial administrative tiers. Resultantly, cities are growing haphazardly and at the mercy and will of bureaucrats and politicians. The futile housing initiatives in the past primarily portray that housing policies and plans were not compatible with real needs and demands of target population and formulated without concerning urban planners. Desperately, government led social housing programs in the past like PHA Flats, Ashiana Housing Scheme were occupied by the urban capitalists and playmates of politicians.
Naya Pakistan demands new mindset and top-notch professionals for the management of public institutions and public welfare programs. As present government has vision to invigorate state institutions by adapting the international practices contrary to the past governments, which shattered, state institutions by nepotism and malpractices.
Housing is multifaceted and local subject and it demands multipronged actions by involving local stakeholders at district level.
Master plans of cities are prepared at lowest administrative tiers and used as a tool to direct and control future urban development of cities. Internationally, local development authorities and municipalities reserve land banks in their jurisdiction for low-income housing to supply habitation for rural migrants. Once local development agencies have land banks they can play with land prices and land markets.
Several developed and developing countries have reformed their urban and regional planning system and sanctioned social housing under the umbrella of town and country planning system. Studies show that empowered local governments and development agencies have imparted fruitful results by really diagnosing housing needs. Incite local real estate developers to invest in low-income housing and subsidies them in taxes and planning approval fees. By the way, if sitting Prime Minister really wants to make this housing program lucrative then town and country planning system is the need of the hour. Because responsive and sustainable cities are pivotal for the economic development of country. Now it’s time to initiate regulatory reforms in town and country planning system by enacting a comprehensive town planning act at federal as well as provincial level. The ultimate concern of town panning system is to remove regional disparities and sustainable development of cities and rural settlements.



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