Category Archives: urban planning

THE CAPITALS OF PAKISTAN: LAHORE

This article was originally published here

Lahore Social

Introduction of the Capital – Lahore:

Lahore is the second largest city of Pakistan, after Karachi. It is the administrative capital of the largest province by demographics, Punjab. At present, the population of Lahore is estimated to be 7.5 million people with a current growth rate of 2%.  It is a rising mega city, comprising of an old but urban residential settings and new developing residential and commercial areas. Lahore’s economic base is broad and diversified. The major industries include the automobile manufacturing, home appliances, steel, telecommunications, IT, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, computers, engineering, heavy industries, and construction material. The city is the country’s largest software producing center and hosts a growing computer-assembly industry.

Situated along the River Ravi, the city is located 25 kilometers from Wagah Border that runs along the Indian city of Amritsar.  Spreading over an area of 1,014 km², and growing, it lies at the central east of Pakistan between 31°15 to 31°45 North and 74°01 to 74°39′ East at the average attitude of 702 feet above the sea level.  The land is mostly the flat alluvial plains suitable for cultivation with a subtropical low-latitude semi-arid hot climate. Continue reading

Urban rehabilitation: The rebirth of Lahore’s Gali Surjan Singh

An exciting report has been published on The Express Tribune about the renovation of Surjan Singh Street by the Punjab Govt with the help of Aga Khan Trust for Culture and World bank. Walled street is a gift of our ancestors with rich heritage to be proud of. We hope more such projects start and preserve this invaluable heritage.

Plaque of the renovated lane fixed next to an old lamp. A view of the street from the Delhi Gate. Residents of Surjan Singh Gali sip tea in their lane. PHOTO: EXPRESS TRIBUNE/HASSAN NAQVI

Plaque of the renovated lane fixed next to an old lamp. A view of the street from the Delhi Gate. Residents of Surjan Singh Gali sip tea in their lane. PHOTO: EXPRESS TRIBUNE/HASSAN NAQVI

Lahore: Located inside the Walled City’s Delhi Gate, Gali Surjan Singh is home to 13 residences. This week, conservation work on these homes and in the area received an ‘honourable mention’ from the UNESCO Asia-Pacific Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation for “efforts of private individuals and organisations that have successfully restored and conserved structures and buildings of heritage value”.
The Gali Surjan Singh project includes a restoration of heritage architecture, replacement of infrastructure and services, including underground telecommunications, electricity, gas, water and sewerage. A total of 23 houses have been restored as part of the project, 13 of which were fully restored, and encroachments removed. Approximately Rs20 million was spent in the restoration of these 13 homes.
Gali Surjan Singh is named after Hakim Surjan Singh and it is believed that it dates back to the period of Maharaja Ranjeet Singh in 1849. In 2007, the Punjab government received financial support from the World Bank and technical and financial assistance from the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC) in order to begin a project of urban rehabilitation here that took into consideration the area’s historic nature and the lives of current residents. Continue reading

Photo Story: Rains play havoc with Lahore

Malik Omaid

Pictures after the recent bout of heavy rain.

It rained in Lahore for whole last night. Though it was nostalgic to hear the music of downpour in the dark whole but as the day came, the sad reality started to bite. These are some Photos of Lahore from today morning telling the story how last night heavy rain played havoc to the city.

Rain1

Rain2

Newly built Kalma Underpass drowned deep under water.

Rain3

Huge infrastructure built just aside Minar-e- Pakistan but no attention given to sewerage system as usual.

Rain4

Rain5

Rain6

Students going to school in Lahore this morning , too bad they didn’t used metro bus.

Rain7

A good use of rain water is to make it a swimming pool, unhealthy though.

rain8

Newly built infrastructure all drowned just because no attention given to sewerage system.

Rain9

Rain10

Rain11 

A wonderful view of “Darya-e-Lahore”.

Rain12

A drowned Qadaffi stadium tells the competency of PCB officials.

 

A Green Thought

by Amna Kausar

Amna Kausar is a candidate for the degree of BSc (Hons) majoring in Environmental Science and currently studying in her final semester. She works as a programme officer in a Lahore-based NGO.

My colleague and I were sitting together one day, obviously working, and the topic under discussion was my ‘so-called’ and ‘irrelevant’ passion for achieving ‘Environmental Sustainability’, not just in my own country, but around the globe i.e. a World of Intelligent Fools. It is sad when people like me, who are definitely few in number, come to terms with the fact that not many people possess the competence to envision our vision. They seem staggered and actually horrified at it. And what exactly is our vision? A Greener and Resourceful Planet! Ah, Thank-you, but No Thank-you!

Heading back to what this colleague was trying to say, in his highly ill-informed and juvenile manner, was that why the ignorant and unenlightened individuals of Pakistan (including himself) would not comprehend how important it was to cut off those trees situated at the Lahore Canal Road so that it could be widened for traffic control. For a minute I thought I could just punch him in his face, not because I was sensitive about this Road Widening Project, but because of the supremely ‘casual’ manner he employed in saying ‘Cut off those trees’. I did not visibly do it, so I stopped clicking my computer mouse, and thought of how to go about this important dialogue.

Only recently, I had got myself in a not-so-very hot debate on Face-book with an acquaintance about an article that I had posted on my profile relating to the notorious ‘Lahore Canal Road Widening Project’. Although, the man had solid points to put forth, I have to say how also extraneous they were.

So I got back to my colleague and asked him whether he knew what trees did for us and the Earth. He said: ‘Duh! They provide Oxygen!’ I had to come back with: ‘Oh! And do you breathe in Helium?’ He looked offended but managed to smile. All I could say to him was that it is humbly requested to him to look for the importance of trees on the internet.

This man and many others like him need to be informed that by chopping off those trees along the canal, they will only rob the city of its lungs! This project is worth Rs. 3.5 billion. Please think twice about Pakistan’s current situation. An amount as huge as this to be spent on a mere 8 percent population of Lahore that owns vehicles is certainly ‘not’ something that we can afford. What about the rest of the 92 percent? Should they move to Planet Mars?

A recent course lecture reminds me of a factual account that we, the intelligent fools of the world, are facing the situation of ‘Environment’ against ‘Development’. Sure, go ahead with Development. Just be a little concerned with its definition and proper implementation. It is amazing to know that the government has a good budget to spend on this Road Widening Project. Will it be a crime to think about the 92 percent I mentioned above and develop an efficient Public Transport System for them? I mean, we are a poor nation for sure and we need to do something about it.

Those trees are Lahore’s cultural possessions. We have not got much left in our pockets that we start stripping our country with its little left beauty. Grave environmental dangers are already forecasted including rise in temperatures and loss of biodiversity. There is utterly no water resource management and we are very close to wars on the issue.

Why are we so blind?

URBAN TRANSPORT IN OUR SUB-CONTINENT : DIFFERENT SOLUTIONS

Vipul Thakore has contributed this post:

All large and expanding cities in our sub-continent have huge transport problems and there is not one standard solution. Without good and economic transport, our economies can not progress

In Indian capital  Delhi, Metro trains have been successfully introduced and the system is now slowly expanding. Similar Metros will be introduced in Bangalore, Chenai  and other cities in due course.

I think Pakistan authorities had some discussions with Delhi Metro Management for introducing Metro System in Lahore. I do not know the result.

I am detailing introduction of a different system, High-tec rapid bus services, in Ahmedabad, Gujarat State. It may be suitable for introduction in some Pakistani cities, with necessary ‘local’ adjustments. Continue reading

Chief Justice takes suo motu notice of Canal Road widening; orders no trees be cut

From Dawn, 28 November 2009

LAHORE, Nov 27: Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry on Friday took suo motu notice against proposed chopping of trees in the provincial metropolis to widen Canal Road.

Chief Justice Chaudhry directed the authorities concerned to put their plans of cutting the trees on hold and summoned the chief secretary and the environment secretary on Dec 1 at Court House in Islamabad.

The chief justice took notice on applications moved by two NGOs namely the Concerned Citizens of Pakistan (CCP) and the Lahore Bachao Tehreek (LBT), seeking a restraining order against proposed cutting of trees to widen Canal Road.

Earlier, Dawn reported in its Nov 26 edition that environmentalists, conservationists and civil society activists had sought help of the CJP to save hundreds of trees likely to be felled during Eid holidays to pave the way for widening of Canal Road. Through an application to the CJP, they had said the Punjab government was planning to widen Canal Road from Thokar Niaz Beg to Dharampura underpass at a hefty cost of Rs3.15 billion, without fulfilling its obligations under the Pakistan Environmental Protection Act, 1997, and the chief minister had announced that work on the project should be started.
Continue reading

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

It’s time for Lahore’s 6th Critical Mass Event

Critical Mass -II

Date: 31 May 2009
Time: 5.45pm (till about 7.30pm)
Place: Zakir Tikka intersection, Sarwar Road, Lahore Cantonment

Critical Mass is about having clean cities that provide mobility and accessibility. Critical Mass is about clean transport. Critical Mass is about putting public good over private interest. Critical Mass is about making friends. Critical Mass is about reclaiming public space. Critical Mass is about showing a man on a cycle is the same as a man in a ten lac car. Critical Mass is about democracy.

Critical Mass is not an organization. It is an idea. It is about making a statement. Everyone in Lahore knows how bad the traffic is. Critical Mass Lahore is a step towards making our city clean and taking our streets back.

Critical Mass is an idea. Make it yours.

What do I need to participate in a Critical Mass Event?

All you need is a road-worthy cycle and an sense of fun. Buy, beg, borrow or steal a cycle if you have to, but join the Mass.

Where and how else to Critical Mass Events take place?

Critical Mass events are typically held on the last Friday of each month in cities all over the world. For information about Critical Mass Lahore, be at Zakir Tikka at 5:45pm this Sunday 31 May 2009 or visit the Critical Mass Lahore Facebook page. Important: Be on time!!!

The effects of Lahore’s urban sprawl

Yesterday, I posted an article about the LDA’s latest schemes in South Lahore.

Today, I’m posting my column as it appeared in The News:

Behind Lahore’s worsening crisis

Since the terrorist attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team at Lahore’s Liberty Market, nothing seems to make sense anymore. The country and its people appear to be drifting to anarchy and chaos. There is deep political crisis. The presidency has stolen the mandate of the people of Punjab and the Swat peace deal is crumbling at its foundations. A Pakistani Taliban is taking over the northern regions. The economy is in deep slide (getting more IFI financing is not the same as a dynamic economy). Poverty is near 40 percent, and violence, intolerance and extremism are on the rise. Government institutions have failed; others are crumbling fast. The integrity of our armed forces is under question. Even cricket is dead.

We can scream blue murder because it’s broken. We can try and blame one another for breaking it. Or we can set about fixing it. You don’t need to be a genius to do this; or be a natural-born leader of men. You just need to participate. This is our mess. We need to clean it up.
Continue reading

Urban Sprawl update: LDA launches two new housing schemes

by Yasir Habib Khan in The Nation, 23 March

LAHORE – Just few days before the new government is going to assume its charge in Punjab, the Lahore Development Authority has launched two new housing schemes with 2,10,000 plots.
These two schemes, situated at southern part of the city, are learnt to be run on the footstep of Defence Housing Authority. The LDA approved the housing schemes on October 31, 2006 with notification under LDA Act 1975 to meet the residential requirements of the city. The Punjab government has banned sale and purchase of land in the concerned areas.
One housing scheme covering around 25,000 kanal land will be situated at Raiwand road. while second housing scheme will spread on Ferozpur road spreading 2 lack and 25 thousands kanals of land
LDA Director General Muhammad Arif Khan announced the two schemes during a press conference held at LDA Plaza here on Saturday.
According to map of scheme, the housing scheme at Ferozepur road will touch from the North Hadiyara Drain, from the South Suaya Asal road, from the West main railway line. While front of the scheme would be stretched out million of kilometer on Ferozepur road. Raiwand road scheme includes 11 small townswhich include moza Janjate, Pajeyan, Khana Nepal, Dhondey, Rakh Raaye, Raaye, Rakgh Jaddo Dher, Jadu Dheer, Karyal, Raiwand and moza Jiya Bagga.
Both the schemes would involve 23 small towns including moza Sadhar, Pandoki, Jalkey, Chehdow, Rakth Chehdow, Toor Wariach, Tehpanju, Badooki, Khand, Asal Suleman, Aato Asal, Kachah, Kang Sharif, Jiya Bagga, Chak Boota, Dhodhey, Raiwand, Karyal, Jalal Pura, Jadu Dheer, Ladhu Key Acheh, Watney, and moza Kangra.
The housing schemes would focus low-income groups in the city besides preparing large number of three-marla plots for widows, orphans and the destitute. The LDA DG Muhammad Arif Khan said that in scheme No 1 there would be 7500 plots for one kanal plots, 7500 plots for 10 marlas, 8333 plots for 3 marlas.
In Scheme No 2, there would be 15000 plots for one kanal, 15000 plots for 10 marlas, and 16666 plots for 3 marlas.
It is learnt that Mian Amer Mahmood, who is also the chairman of the Lahore Development Authority, directed for selling these plots to the lower class on minimum possible prices, providing construction plans along with estimates to the people free of cost and exempting these plots from getting approved site plan.
The sources said that the district nazim asked for allocating big chunks of land for setting up four colleges, two each for boys and girls in these schemes as well as for reserving more land for public utility sites and establishing commercial areas in view of future requirements. “The nazim also directed to ensure electricity supply lines under ground and a water treatment plant included in the planning of these schemes, the sources concluded.

Goodbye, Walton

lahore-flying-clubby Ahmad Rafay Alam

This summer I was the lucky recipient of a very special birthday gift: a charter flight over Lahore. I recommend the experience to everyone, more so now, given the tale that is to tell.

While approaching the Walton Airport runway – Walton is Lahore’s original airstrip and is the home of the erstwhile Lahore Flying Club (est. 1930) – and about where our tiny single-propeller Cessna, the Suzuki Alto of the air, crossed Ferozepur Road, I noticed a very large ditch almost directly under the flight path.
Continue reading

Slimy Ravi

A letter to the editor published in the Friday TImes, Lahore.

The Punjab government would do well to rein in one of its offshoots, the environment protection agency (EPA). The agency has issued notices to almost all industrial units located in the Multan Road industrial area for not observing environmental rules and regulations. For instance, having a soakage well for collection of sewage water in factory premises is against EPA rules. EPA reckons it pollutes the subsoil water rendering it unfit for drinking. Even if we agree that EPA has a point, what arrangements has the Government made to provide a sewage system in one of the oldest industrial areas of the city? The city Government has not even provided drains along the road for collecting rainwater, meaning factories in the low lying areas are inundated during the rainy season.

Sitting in cushy offices and issuing notices to industries for breach of law is one thing, assessing the situation on the ground to understand the miseries of the sufferers is another. EPA could justify proceeding against the industrial units only if the Government had provided an alternate arrangement to manage sewage water. Lastly, how does the Government manage city sewage? Does it have a purification plant? Wasa discharges the sewage waste into Ravi; no wonder the water is nothing but slime.

Mirza Tuftan Baig,

Lahore.

Govt okays 16-km expressway for Lahore

Associated Press of Pakistan

LAHORE: In order to reduce the huge traffic burden on North-South axis of Lahore, the Punjab government has decided to construct 16-km-long one-way Elevated Expressway from Lahore Bridge (General Hospital) to Ravi Road.

According to official sources, it will be a one-lane road on raised platform open to downtown traffic at mornings and uptown traffic in the afternoons but it has yet to be decided if it would be workable both ways or not. The authorities planning the Expressway are however very clear that the elevated road will just be one-lane project for either north-to-south or south-to-north traffic. It can also be one way in the morning and the other way in the evenings. The objective of building an elevated expressway is to facilitate commuters to be able to go downtown straight at a non-stop run or go back home after a day’s job. Continue reading

Shahbaz Sharif sets a leadership benchmark

By Raza Rumi

While the pundits have rambled on the venality of the politician and the slothfulness of the bureaucracy, Pakistan’s largest province has witnessed the rise of a unique phenomenon in terms of provincial public management articulated by its second-time Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif. In terms of efficacy of the public services and the administration of state machinery, the younger Sharif has set a leadership benchmark that daunts the political class as a whole. What are the points of departure here and how did this formidable image develop in less than a decade?

From 1997-99, arguably not a long stint in office, Shahbaz Sharif demonstrated the maximalist application and range of political will — from policy setting to micro-managerial interventions. It was a style that went down well with the populace, sent shivers down the imaginary backbones of the civil service and took the Continue reading

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

Lahore landmarks from the sky (2) – A Lahore you don’t get to see everyday

Rafay Alam’s air safari over Lahore is engaging and most delighful. Lahore from the Sky (Part 2)

The great advantage of chartering a flight (I recommend this to everyone, by the way, as one of the most entertaining way to spend an afternoon) is that you can treat it like a taxi.
After having flown over the older parts of town, I could sense that the pilots were falling to routine and were just covering a well worn “tourist” route. I asked them to fly over newer parts of Lahore.
I’ve written on Lahore’s urban sprawl, but it really stands out from the sky. Now’s a chance to show everyone what it looks like.

Above is the view from over Iqbal Town looking roughly eastwards. Note that residential housing dominates the photograph. To compare how Lahore has grown, I’ve cropped a portion of a 1927 Map of Lahore that I have.

In 1927, the only telling landmark is the line (on the top left of the map and heading downwards) demarcating Ferozepur Road. The area that is now Iqbal Town, or village Bhekewal, was mostly fields. There was no Punjab University on the Canal at the time. In fact, the land forming the University north of the Canal was used, it seems, as a rifle range. Continue reading

Public toilets are disappearing in Lahore

Unanswered call by  By Shahzada Irfan Ahmed

Public toilets are disappearing fast in densely populated city of Lahore

It was his fault but not big enough to be punished with a bullet shot in his leg. Yes it’s exactly what happened with Majid Abbas, 17, earlier this month. The poor boy had dared to answer the call of nature at the site of an under-construction plaza at Liberty Market. Majid, who later recorded his statement with the police, says a private security guard posted at the site asked him to get up and move away but he couldn’t as it was too late. “I couldn’t hold it back any further, but I didn’t know the guard will fire a shot at me.” He says it was only after a failed attempt to find a public toilet or such facility at some public place that he used the space as a last resort.

The ordeal which Majid went through (before the shooting incident took place), has been experienced by most of us many a time. It’s no secret how difficult, rather painful it becomes when you can’t find a place to relieve yourself. Had there been a nearby public toilet, even a paid one, Majid would have avoided coming in the line of fire. Continue reading

Lahore: “Land shouldn’t be used for speculation”

 — Irfan Ali, Director General, Lahore Development Authority in terviewed by By Saadia Salahuddin & Aoun Sahi of the NEWS

The new DG LDA has taken a series of actions in the last one month. One was ordering land audit of 116 housing schemes in the district. Another was placing a number of ads in daily newspapers to apprise the public of the frauds and irregularities where they exist, in the different housing schemes. This was to warn people to check with LDA whether the plot exists or not, before purchasing land. This led The News on Sunday to interview him and find out what was happening in the realm of real estate.

 These housing societies or schemes are still doing business despite having earned a reputation (of committing fraud). TNS asked the DG what the LDA was doing about it.

At this DG LDA Irfan Ali said, “LDA’s actions are geared towards ensuring the welfare of prospective buyers. We have all the maps of schemes that we have approved. The people can check with us. Our role is to regulate the private sector which has a major role in land development, so we do not want to discourage them. LDA points out irregularities and the private housing schemes should address the problems themselves.” Continue reading