Tag Archives: Urban

Save Lahore Canal – sign this petition

Please sign this petition

To:  Citizens of Lahore

As you may have heard, The Punjab government is planning to widen the road on both sides of the Lahore Canal, from Thokar Niaz Baig to Dharampura, as a so-called solution for the congestion on the canal road due to the rapidly increasing automobile population. The Punjab Chief Minister had announced that the project would begin immediately after Eid-ul-Azha, however, Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry took suo moto notice and effectively restrained the government from commencing work on the project on 27 November 2009. The government has not fulfilled its legal obligation of carrying out an EIA (Environmental Impact Assessment)for the project and the lack of transparency of the program is depriving the citizens of Lahore from having a say in this change.

It is the consensus of a great number of organizations and groups of concerned citizens that the Rs 3.15 billion project violates basic principles of traffic design and will not only prove ineffective in countering traffic congestion, but also lead to an outstanding number of problems related to the well-being of the public and the environment. Widened roads have historically proven to only end up attracting more traffic, and the government’s focus on providing for the car-owning citizen over the abounding majority (which requires public transport, sidewalks, public toilets, phones and drinking water) is entirely against the principles of equity. The project also means the cutting down of several thousand old trees and losing over 50 acres of the green belt, which is sure to lead to a staggering number of environmental problems including rising temperatures and carbon and toxic content, not to mention the loss of ancient species of trees and shrubs that provide shelter to a variety of birds and small animals. The historical, environmental, recreational and aesthetic value of this green space cannot be stressed enough.

We demand that our voice be heard to address these critical issues and help preserve the beauty and grandeur of our city.

Sincerely,

The Undersigned

Saving the canal (Lahore)

Saving the canal
The News, Saturday, August 22, 2009
(http://www.thenews.com.pk/daily_detail.asp?id=194338)

The canal that runs through Lahore represents much that is good about the city. The shrubs, bushes and tall trees that line it give the provincial capital the greenery that its residents have cherished for centuries. The waterway – even today when pollution has tarnished its beauty – offers a kind of calm oasis in the heart of the urban jungle, where families picnic and fitness-lovers jog. It is these factors that have led a group of earnest citizens to renew their campaign against a plan to broaden the road along the canal which would result in hundreds of trees being chopped down. While the Punjab government argues this is necessary to maintain smooth traffic flow, the ‘Save Lahore Movement’ argues the massacre of greenery would inflict great environmental damage and indeed erode the very nature of Lahore. Trees marked for chopping have been chalked and placards put up demanding they be saved. The action by citizens including many women and children has caught public interest, with passers by stopping to find out more. Continue reading

Lahore’s history goes rack and ruin

Isambard Wilkinson, The National

Lahore – A project to save the architectural and cultural heritage of Lahore’s fabled Old City is foundering due to political instability and corruption, officials say.

The World Bank has offered US$10 million (Dh36.7m) to restore the 2.6-sq-km Old City, home to 145,000 of Lahore’s eight million population, but the so-called Sustainable Development Walled City project has become mired in bureaucracy and inertia.

Jewels of Moghul architecture have been neglected or poorly restored. Havelis, courtyard houses akin to Morocco’s highly prized riads, have been left to rot. Many of the city’s decorously carved wooden balconies, or jerokahs, have collapsed and the streets are squalid.

The city that was bought to life by writers ranging from the Moghul court chroniclers to the bard of the British Raj, Rudyard Kipling, and was once the capital of the Moghul and Sikh empires, is in a state of deep decay. Continue reading

Montek looks to Lahore for solutions

NEW DELHI, Nov 24, 2008 (Hindustan Times – McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) –
Lahore, the cultural and political epicentre of undivided India, can now provide solutions to problems of urban India.

It has attracted modern Indian planners to study the city’s urban infrastructure. Planning Commission Deputy Chairperson Montek Singh Ahluwalia will be visiting the city, where the Congress adopted the resolution for complete Independence and the Muslim League decided to have a separate Muslim nation, to study the its modern urban infrastructure.

 

“I, along with secretary, planning (Subhas Pani) will be visiting Pakistan to study what they have done to maintain urban infrastructure of Lahore despite population growth,” Ahluwalia said last week in the presence of Farzana Rana, Pakistan’s Union minister for women and former Pakistan Peoples Party spokesperson. Continue reading

The native returns

Unaffected by the prophets of doom, a Lahori decides the city is the place to be

By Raza Rumi

Twenty years ago, I left Lahore. Excited by prospects of quality higher education and the adolescent yearning for freedom, this was a moment that only with age I have understood. A flash that alters the life-path even when one is not aware of it. As I grew up and visited Lahore from a multitude of cities and continents, Lahore’s provincialism and inward-looking ethos irked me. However, the splendour of its lived history and multi-layered present fascinated me endlessly. A false sense of fatalism whispered that my exile was going to cover a life-span.

The last few years were spent abroad: so dejected I was that not living in Lahore would mean living just anywhere. When I decided this summer to return to Pakistan, I was astounded by the reactions from all and sundry. I was told that I am ‘mad’ to have chosen to return to a burning, imploding and crashing Pakistan. Such is the power of global corporate media that even the discerning and schooled Pakistanis have started to believe in the failed state mantra scripted outside Pakistan. Continue reading

Losing Lahore

Josh Loeb writing for this week’s Friday Times

Delhi Gate – entrance to the
“Royal Route”

The Dhai Anga Mausoleum

The derelict tomb of “Buddu,”
Dhai Anga’s husband

“Cities that survive and prosper are not cities which destroy their heritage. People don’t visit Paris because of business; they visit because it is a beautiful city”

“This country is strewn with heritage,” she continues. “Turn a stone and there’ll be something there. And it should not be the preserve of intellectuals – ordinary people are interested” – Yasmeen Lari

“He who has not seen Lahore has not been born,” the saying goes, yet speak to those interested in old buildings and they will tell you that Lahore is dying.

Earlier this year, English architectural historian Simon Jenkins issued a stark warning. “Lahore’s past is collapsing around it,” he wrote in a British newspaper. “Hovering over its ancient walls is a sense of utter neglect.” He went on to warn that cities that neglect their past endanger their future. If this true, Lahore’s future is bleak.

Take the mausoleum of Dhai Anga, wet nurse to Mughal Shah Jahan. Completed in 1671, the building is situated in what was once a rose garden but is now a mini-wasteland – the haunt of drug-addled young men who pace about with bloodshot eyes beneath the arches of the tomb’s chambers. Of the “beautiful enamelled tile mosaics” proclaimed on the information board outside there is now almost nothing left. Whilst funds are directed towards Lahore’s two world heritage sites – the Lahore Fort and Shalimar Gardens – other historic monuments are turning to dust.

Mohammad Imran makes a living guiding visitors around historic sights like the Dhai Anga Mausoleum.

“I want to see this building in a good condition,” he says. “I want to see a restoration but I want to see it done in the right way. A lot of buildings are restored half-heartedly. It should be restored to its original shape or else there is no point.”

Imran trots out the old refrain that antique buildings should be looked after for the sake of tourism (something with which Jenkins agrees). But Yasmeen Lari, Pakistan’s first female architect and the director of the Pakistan Heritage Foundation, takes a different view.

“I’m not bothered about tourists,” she explains. “Frankly, the way things are in the country right now, tourists are not going to come anyway. Conserving our heritage is something that should be done for our own pride and for social cohesion. It’s something to understand ourselves by.

“This country is strewn with heritage,” she continues. “Turn a stone and there’ll be something there. And it should not be the preserve of intellectuals – ordinary people are interested.”

Back at the Dhai Anga Mausoleum, two workers from the mysteriously (and perhaps misleadingly) named Archaeological Department are engaged in what appears to be dusting stones. “Small repairs,” explains one, Furqan Ullah, yet there remains an air of hopelessness about the endeavour. Continue reading

Sin and the City

By Saad Javed

Amidst its layers of histories and cultures, with its contrast of crumbling monuments, bustling food-streets, sprawling gardens, broad avenues with rickshaw trumpets, red sandstone colonial buildings, serene canal-cum-dynamic-public-bathtubs, labyrinthine old quarters, high rise glass and steel towers and ancient city gates, Lahore has so many pleasures to offer, so many virtues to display. And so much to hide. To hide and to nurture, the biblical seven cardinal sins…

Lust

He arrived at the famed Salahuddin haveli and saw that the party was in full swing. Familiar to the quarters, he found his way through the dancing, swinging bodies and managed to be served with the right blend of whisky. And he saw her first over the top of an ambassador’s bald head. Continue reading

Living Lohawarana

by Raza Rumi

Also published in Himal Magazine’s October issue

There was a Lahore that I grew up in, and then there is the Lahore that I live in now. Recovering from an exile status for two decades, I find myself today turning into something of a clichéd grump, hanging desperately on to the past. Yet I resist that. Writing about Lahore is a sensation that lies beyond the folklore – Jine Lahore nai wakhaya o janmia nai (The one who has not seen Lahore has never lived). It has to do with an inexplicable bonding and oneness with the past, and yet a contradictory and not-so-glorious interface with the present.

Lahore is now the second largest city in Pakistan, with a population that has crossed the 10 million mark. It is turning into a monstropolis. Had it not been for Lahore’s intimacy with Pakistan’s power base – the Punjab-dominated national establishment – this would be just another massive, unmanageable city, regurgitating all the urban clichés of the Global South. But Lahore retains a definite soul; it is comfortable with modernity and globalisation, and continues to provide inspiration for visitors and residents alike.

Over the last millennium, Lahore has been the traditional capital of Punjab in its various permutations. A cultural centre of North India extending from Peshawar to New Delhi, it has historically been open to visitors, invaders and Sufi saints alike. Several accounts tell how Lahore emerged as a town between the 6th and 16th centuries BC. According to commonly accepted myth, Lahore’s ancient provenance, Lohawarana, was founded by the two sons of Lord Ram some 4000 years ago. One of these sons, Loh (or Luv), gave his name to this timeless city. A deserted temple in Lahore Fort is ostensibly a tribute to Loh, located near the Alamgiri gate, next to the fort’s old jails. Under the regime of Zia ul-Haq, Loh’s divine space was closed and used as a dungeon in which to punish political activists. Continue reading

Do not write on the wall

Mosque, in old Baghbanpura near the Shalimar Gardens

Mosque, in old Baghbanpura near the Shalimar Gardens

The devastating rains in Lahore

LAHORE: The city witnessed partial rain on Thursday, while the other parts remained dry. Rain was recorded in Model Town, Shadman, Walled City, Jail Road, The Mall and Mozang. Continue reading

It took 270 minutes for Lahore to drown

Lahore drowns in 270 minutes

* 86mm of rain paralyses routine life
* Major roads submerged, vehicles break down in rainwater
* Shahbaz Sharif hits the road to rescue flood-affected people
* WASA MD says authority is helpless in localities with no sewerage system

By Nauman Tasleem

LAHORE: A four-and-a-half-hour long spell of rain on the weekend paralysed routine life, as water accumulated on main roads and crossings, causing breakdown of a number of vehicles in various localities of the city. Continue reading

Facing urban congestion

By Ahmad Rafay Alam

Traffic congestion is a universal constant. What isn’t, on the other hand, is the many ways traffic congestion and transport problems are perceived and tackled. Some cities have managed to break free of their dependence of the automobile. Many more haven’t, and have lost themselves to Congestion. The approach each city takes to the problem of urban congestion and transport is an insight into their priorities and a gauge of how successful their efforts will be.

The motor vehicles that cause congestion are major polluters of urban air. For example, on June 7 the Environment Protection Agency of Punjab issued a report on air-quality monitoring in Lahore. According to the EPA, as of June 2008, Lahore’s air is the most polluted it has ever been. “Since records began.”

The EPA has compiled a list of factors that contribute to the increase in pollution. These include “traffic jams at crossings, and high density of traffic on the road.” In 2005, the District Officer (Environment) of Lahore had estimated that there were 1.5 million registered motor vehicles in Lahore. According to statistics recently released by the Excise and Taxation Department, 900,000 new vehicles were registered in Lahore between 2002 and 2007. Continue reading

Land of contradictions – ramblings from Lahore

Ahmad Rafay Alam

To say Pakistan is a mass of contradictions is an understatement. We live in a country where powerful politicians don’t need to be elected, where the chief justice is without a courtroom and where army officers, until a few months ago, controlled the Water and Power Development Authority. Recently, I found a Club Class return trip ticket on our national carrier was two thousand rupees cheaper than its Economy Class equivalent. Things are certainly topsy-turvy in these parts.

These contradictions permeate through everything. They exist everywhere. For instance, my journey from home in Lahore’s Upper Mall to the High Court takes 30 minutes, even though all I need to do is travel straight down The Mall. But a journey to LUMS, in the farthest regions of Defence’s U-Block, through the Cantonment and numerous traffic intersections, never takes more than 25.

If you’ve even visited the Royal Palm Golf & Country Club along Lahore’s Canal, you’ve probably noticed the high walls that keep the middle-class residents along Allama Iqbal Road, in the Garhi Shahu and Railway areas and the squatters that occupy Railway land near the tracks off the golf course. But anywhere else in the world, property that overlooks a golf course and country club usually gets picked up by the extremely rich. There must be something seriously wrong in our property development paradigm where land values can be so skewed. Continue reading

Pollution in Lahore needs to be checked

  Story Source and Picture

SOLID WASTE management department of City District Government Lahore (CDGL) is heavily contributing in polluting the environment of the provincial capital in one or another way.

As per the figures collected from solid waste management (SWM) sources, around 6000 tons of solid waste is generated daily in Lahore, while over 500 tons waste is generated in Lahore cantonment board, model town society, defence housing society and other areas. Sources revealed that out of this 6000 ton of waste, 35 per cent remained on the roads due various reasons including low lifting capacity of SWM, lack of proper training to staff regarding lifting garbage, absence of staffers from duties etc. Continue reading

Facing the urban challenges ahead

Ahmad Rafay Alam

A few newspaper reports from last week, taken from various publications, when read carefully, reveal the challenges the new government of Punjab will face when it assumes charge and comes face to face with the challenges urban planning before it.

The first is a report that an open drain in DHA Lahore is causing health problems to nearby residents. Originally planned to channel storm water, this drains is now, like the 16 odd other open drains in the city, a floating cesspool of raw and untreated sewerage. The drain that passes through the DHA, like all the other open drains in Lahore, easily offends and can overwhelm even the heartiest of men. Not only that, since the noxious and toxic gases emitted by decomposing waste are well known corrosives, the newspaper report reveals that the open drain is a constant source of attrition on any metal kept outdoors. No air conditioner or, worse, generator, is safe!

But the olfactory displeasures of the well ensconced rich are not the only point to note. The writer of the newspaper report quite dutifully interviewed all the usual suspects. He spoke to residents of the area, the secretary of the Punjab Environmental Protection department, the managing director of the Water and Sanitation Agency, the district officer of the Solid Waste Management, Lahore, the secretary of the Defence Housing Authority and even a doctor at Mayo Hospital. Continue reading

Pawning the family jewels – in Lahore

Ahmad Rafay Alam

Rent-seeking is destroying our cities. I know that’s a strong statement, but it’s more than deserved. Let me explain.

The phrase “rent-seeking” is an economic term originally identified in connection with monopolies. It has now grown to provide a better understanding of government regulation and, more sinister, abuse of power and privilege. It doesn’t really have much to do with leases, which is where you hear the word rent thrown about quite a bit. It actually stems from Adam Smith’s tripartite division of income, namely profit obtained from investment, wages earned through labour or rent earned through the lease of an asset. Rent-seeking is the practice of making income without the risks (and rewards) normally associated with investment or the toil and effort normally associated with labour. It represents money made without the rent-seeker actually making a real contribution to the productivity of the economy.

Another way to identify the practice of rent-seeking is to examine incidents of when a third part interferes in the availability of an otherwise accessible transaction. In a more obvious context, take the billboards in our cities. Anyone who wants to put a billboard up has to get the approval of the local government authority that regulates the advertising we see in our cities. In Lahore, it is the Parks and Horticulture Authority. The PHA, thus, interferes with the free availability of advertising space in the city and the income it makes from regulating permission to erect billboards is income in the form of rent-seeking. Last year, the PHA netted some Rs350 million in “revenue” collected from the regulation of billboard advertising. Continue reading

Skewed urban development agenda

by Ahmad Rafay Alam (from the NEWS)

The priority given to different urban development projects strikes me as odd. Given the extensive road development work seen in Lahore during the tenure of the previous provincial government, it would appear that inner-city mobility was considered key to the city’s future. The billions in foreign development assistance spent upgrading transport infrastructure stands in stark contrast to the opinion, expressed by many a citizen and almost every elected local government official, that the most pressing issue facing the city of Lahore today is solid-waste management. And yet, at the same time, the amounts spent on upgrading the sewerage system of the city pale in comparison to those spent to accommodate private automobile owners.

Why is there such a discrepancy between the urban development people want to see and the urban development they get? A look at the institutions that are responsible for the urban planning and development of the city and the financial and administrative control they wield offers an answer to this very perplexing question. Continue reading

Lahore: The writing on the wall

Ayeda Naqvi (courtesy Daily Times)

Lahore has been ruled by any number of any would-be emperors. Lahore has survived. The emperors have faded. Those who are remembered are remembered for their deeds, not their billboards

Driving down the streets of Lahore, a few days ago, I was struck by an unusual sight. On the wall of a canal underpass, in red, somebody had scribbled “I love you”. There was a heart around the words. So struck was I by this sight that I nearly crashed my car.

You see the past few months I have become accustomed to a very different type of graffiti — vandalism in the name of electioneering. From mammoth-sized billboards with candidates’ faces to political slogans painted on walls, Lahore was “sprayed” by the PMLQ in much the same way that animals mark their territory.

No corner of our city was spared. Everywhere we turned, we were assaulted by these large and vulgar displays. Lahore took on an eerie feel as even beggars’ wheelchairs sported logos. Everywhere you looked, Big Brother was watching you back.

Some people were so disgusted they simply refused to vote. Others were more pragmatic. As a Canal Park shop-keeper said, “We will take their cheques and eat their food but we will not vote for them.” The response was loud and clear: our loyalties are not for sale. No amount of money spent on television advertisements or street campaigns can buy our votes. Continue reading

No parking plaza constructed in seven years in Lahore

I remember that the former Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif was concerned about the state of traffic congestion and inadequate parking. Well, this report from the Daily Times should be enough to provide the incoming government, most likely to be a PML-N coalition, to put this in the urgent priority list for improving the glorious Lahore… (RR)

By Muzaffar Ali

LAHORE: Despite tall claims, the city government and the Punjab government have failed to construct a single parking lot in the city to reduce the growing traffic problems, said All Pakistan Anjuman-e-Tajran (APAT) General Secretary Abdur Razzaq on Wednesday.

The officials in the city government blamed the Punjab government for not releasing funds for the purpose. After this, both governments have been asking traders to build parking lots. The APAT asked the Punjab government in 2007 to lease out 14 places for 100 years and said the organisation itself would build parking lots. The APAT general secretary said the Punjab government, however, failed to provide places in this regard. Continue reading

Lahore impressions by a Bahawalpur resident

An interesting article by a writer from Bahawalpur, another jewel of the Punjab province,  on his impressions of Lahore. A few excerpts ….

During my recent visit to this mega-city, I have collected some impressions. The first and foremost is that Lahore has expanded too much. It is such a large city that one cannot be sure where it begins and where it ends. It has so many facilities, but its problems are also gigantic.

The suburb of Lahore is as underdeveloped as many areas of Punjab. A little rain could make life miserable. It is what I had seen when I was returning to Bahawalpur. It was daytime and I could see a glimpse of the towns of my own region in the suburb of Lahore. The industrial units were surrounded by filth. Poverty was flourishing under the shadows of skyscrapers.
…..

“Lahore has the potential to even grow more if it just takes care of itself. It should not expand further and contain itself to certain limits. It should also think about getting smart and slim, if possible,” I thought loudly when the bus was crossing over the Sutlej River. By that time night had fallen. There was some water in the river, but I cannot tell exactly whether it was polluted or clean.