Category Archives: Urban

Lahore High Court issues notices to 28 water supply companies

Raza Rumi

I am posting this news item from the Daily Times. Thank God that we have the judges taking stock of the critical issues facing the public. The unregulated and greedy companies are selling sub standard water, medicines and milk. W urge the Court to pursue this matter in public interest and get to the point of achieving ‘complete justice’ .

Justice Mian Saqib Nisar of the Lahore High Court (LHC) issued show cause notices to 28 bottled and mineral water supply companies in Punjab that have not had their licences renewed for the last two years. The judge also asked the companies to explain why their units should not be closed and granted one-month to those companies which had licences expired in 2009. The judge also directed that his orders be conveyed to all water bottling Continue reading

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

It’s time for the October Critical Mass Lahore!!!

Join Lahore’s 11th Critical Mass Event at 10:15am this Sunday 25 October 2009 from the Fountain Square, Neela Gumbat, behind Bank Square on Mall Road, Lahore.

This Critical Mass cycling event ill see us prowling the innards of Lahore where riding a bike offers the chance to sample more of  Walled City life without picking a tab.

The thrum of the historic Walled City will lift your spirits as we catch the city-folks going about their morning ritual of Nashta.  If you’re worried about the security situation, you can stay at home at let the terrorists win.

Spinning via Anarkali Bazar we will enter the walled city from Lohari Gate and zigzag our way through the maze of Said Mitha, Paniwala Talab, Rang Mahal, Kashmiri Bazar, Chuna Mandi, Sheranwala Gate, and weave our way back from Fort Road, Red Light District, and Bhati Gate returning to Nila Gumbad via Lower Mall.

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 or a woman on a cycle is the same as one in a ten lac car. Critical Mass is about democracy.

It’s time for September’s Critical Mass Event!!!

Critical Mass IIIFellow Lahoris, Critical Mass Lahore has survived the summer and has been enjoyed through Ramzan.  Now, it’s time to rally once more for the cause of public transport, sustainable development, democratic public spaces and, of course, the right to have fun on our own streets!!!

Join Lahore’s 10th Critical Mass Event at 5:00pm this Sunday 27 September 2009 from the 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 or a woman on a cycle is the same as one in a ten lac car. Critical Mass is about democracy.

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.  Come, cycle around Lahore.  Reclaim your city, and have more fun than you can imagine!

Where and how else do Critical Mass Events take place?
Critical Mass events are typically held on the last Friday of each month in over 250 cities all over the world. In Lahore, it is held on the last Sunday of every month.  For information about Critical Mass Lahore, be at Zakir Tikka at 5:00pm this Sunday 27 September 2009 or visit the Critical Mass Lahore Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=38992998526) or the Critical Mass Lahore blog
Important: Be on time!!!

75% houses in GOR-I allotted to DMG officers

GOR GateLAHORE: The Government Officers Residence (GOR-I) has become an ‘empire’ for District Management Group (DMG) officers with some 75 percent bungalows in the residential area allotted to DMG officers.

The colony is located in a prime area of the city, adjacent to The Mall, the Canal, Jail Road and the Aiwan-e-Tijarat.

Of the total of 161 bungalows in the locality, 113 are available for open allotment. Of these, only 27 have been allotted to officers who are not from the DMG.

Out of the 161 bungalows, 25 are at the disposal of the Lahore High Court (LHC) for allotment to LHC and Supreme Court judges. Fifteen bungalows are reserved for the chief minister and other provincial legislators, and eight are designated for officers of various departments.

Continue reading

Cycle bling

Last Sunday’s Critical Mass event was a success.  About 40 cycle enthusiasts turned out in the late afternoon to cycle around the city in an effort to raise awareness about the environment, alternative modes of transport, democratic development and also just to enjoy themselves.

One enthusiast brought what was, by far, the most blinged-out cycle I have seen.  Here are some photographs:

Cycle Bling I

This is what he had written on the front of the cycle:

Cycle Bling II

Now that’s cycle-sense if ever saw it!!!

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!!!

It’s Time for Critical Mass Lahore

critical-mass-invite-april

The last Sunday of the month is approaching, and so it’s time for Critical Mass. I can’t speak for the others (though I know many share this view), but getting on our cycles and going onto the streets of Lahore sends a powerful message: That the streets are open spaces; that men, women and children can enjoy the city and its many delights safely and without fear of molestation; that cycling is a viable form of transport; that the way our cities are managed is deplorable; and that, most of all, we are having fun in our own city and in our own country.

Come join the Critical Mass on Sunday. All you’ll need is a road worthy cycle and a sense of adventure. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

It’s time for Lahore’s 4th Critical Mass cycling event

critical-mass-march-20091

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.

Critical Mass Lahore February 2009

critical-mass-iii2
The last Sunday of the month is approaching. You know this means it’s time for Critical Mass.
Join us at 10am this Sunday 22 February for Lahore’s 3rd Critical Mass cycling event.

Cyclists in China coined the term Critical Mass to describe the phenomenon that takes place when cyclists can take over streets and traffic dominated by automobiles. Critical Mass now takes place in over 200 cities around the world.
Critical Mass is not an organization. It is an idea. Critical Mass is about having clean cities that provide mobility and accessibility. Critical Mass is about clean transport.
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 about having the right to mobility.
Everyone in Lahore knows how bad the traffic is. Critical Mass Lahore is the first step in taking our streets back.
Critical Mass is an idea. Make it yours.

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

Nothing but a road-worthy cycle and an sense of fun.

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. Get more information at http://www.critical-mass.info. For information about Critical Mass Lahore, some to Zakir Tikka at 10am on Sunday 22 February 2009.

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

First ever Critical Mass event in Lahore

critical-mass-ii

Be Part of the First Ever
Critical Mass Event in Lahore
10am Sunday 28 December 2008
Starting from the Zakir Tikka intersection
Sarwar Road, Lahore Cantonment
(Route maps will be available at the venue; the Event should last no more than 1 hour 30 minutes)

Continue reading

Dancing Girls Of Lahore Strike Over “Taliban” Law

Patrick Cockburn and Issam Ahmed in Lahore
Friday, 12 December 2008

The dancing girls of Lahore, the cultural capital of Pakistan, are on strike in protest against the tide of Talibanisation that is threatening to destroy an art form that has flourished since the Mughal empire.

The strike, which is supported by the theatres where they perform, was sparked by the decision of Lahore High Court last month to ban the Mujra, the graceful and elaborate dance first developed in the Mughal courts 400 years ago, on the grounds that it is too sexually explicit. Continue reading

New transport company proposed

Tuesday, December 02, 2008
By Atif Nadeem (writing in The News)

LAHORE

THE Provincial Transport Authority (PTA) has proposed establishment of a new transport company “Lahore Transport Company” (LTC), to tackle various issues regarding public transport in the city.

Talking to The News, sources said Chief Minister Task Force on Improvement of Transportation Chairman Tasnim Noorani on Monday chaired a meeting of PTA officers and office-bearers of the Urban Transport Union. Transport Department Secretary Shehzad Cheema, the additional secretary and traffic planning chief were also present.

The meeting discussed various matters, including reduction in fares of public transport. Sources said the idea of establishment of Lahore Transport Company (LTC) was discussed with the transport owners which would be run with the cooperation of the transport unions in the city.
Continue reading

Lahore’s water contaminated by pollutants

* Paper by Anita Chaudhry says Lahore has no public storage capacity, sewage seeps into groundwater

By Khalid Hasan (writing for the Daily Times)

WASHINGTON: A hundred percent of samples taken from Lahore’s water supply and tested in 2006 were found to be contaminated, according to a paper presented at a conference on Pakistan’s water problem held at the Woodrow Wilson Centre.

According to Anita Chaudhry, who teaches Economics at the California State University, the contaminants found in Lahore’s water were iron, arsenic and bacteria.

Four years earlier, only 56 percent of the samples were contaminated. She also said that the average groundwater depth in east Lahore is 100 feet, while it is 40 feet in west Lahore. Access to safe drinking water in Punjab’s urban areas in 2002 was 95 percent against 87 percent in rural areas. Access to sanitation in urban areas was 92 percent and 35 percent in rural areas. Continue reading

A Tale of Two Cities (part II)

by Ahmad Rafay Alam

To paint another picture, there are nine Food Inspectors in Lahore. These are the people that ensure the food Lahoris eat is hygienic. For this important task, there should be 70 food inspectors. Because of the lack of enforcement of food regulations, our hospitals are full of patients with typhoid, cholera and diarrhoea (Pakistan is the second-highest in South Asia for number of child diarrhoea cases). And guess what? When these patients come to government-run hospitals, they find underperforming doctors. The quality of hospitals, basic and rural health in Punjab, which are supposedly decentralised to the local level, is deplorable. Another reason people are streaming into hospital ill-equipped to deal with them is the incredible amount of pollution in our cities, including Lahore. The air quality in Lahore is the worst in history and the World Bank estimates there are some 45 million estimated cases of respiratory diseases in Pakistan each year. To add to this is a rundown water and sanitation system. Because of sub-standard water quality, because sewage pipes regularly leak into water mains, because the sanitation department of Lahore employs only 1,700 men (there should be more than 7,000), the number of such cases can only increase.

What do sanitation, health and air pollution have to do with the Canal Road? Let me explain. In order to even be considered as having safe habitation for its residents, a city must also provide sanitation and health facilities. They are like two sides of the same coin. Without good sanitation and health facilities you cannot be said to have safe habitats. At the moment, Lahore is very lucky. Although the P&D Department of the Government of Punjab issued a report in which it admitted that half of urban Punjabis live in slums and katchi abadis, Lahore is a relatively well-designed city with a relatively lower percentage of its residents living in squalor. But this is set to change. In the next two decades, if our sanitation, health and air quality do not improve, this city will become unliveable. It will stretch from Shahdara to the north-east to the Indian border on the west and halfway to Kasur to the south-west. But, as things stand, most of this area has already been taken over, plotted up and sold by private real-estate developers. By the time the next twenty million people pour into Lahore, these areas – automobile-dependant and without a single environment impact assessment or mitigation measure between them – will be choking under the weight of the urban necropolis they have become part of. Continue reading

A tale of two cities (Part I)

By by Ahmad Rafay Alam

The chief minister of Punjab has requested NESPAK to come up with a way to widen Lahore’s canal road without cutting down any of the trees that line the only avenue of its kind in the world. Ostensibly, this is to cater to the increased congestion and automobile traffic that uses the now signal-free corridor through most of the city. The request made to NESPAK comes months after members of civil society were privately assured that the canal road widening plan would not be pursued by the Sharif government. Of course, NESPAK has no choice but to comply with the executive order it has received. For them, it is less of a study of whether the road can be widened and more of an exercise of how to get it done. One sympathises with the rock-and-hard-place NESPAK finds itself in, but the issue of the canal road widening needs to be understood within the context of the future of the city.

When the previous government attempted to widen the Canal Road, it was met with unexpected and unprecedented opposition from Lahoris keen to preserve one of the last jewels of its built heritage. The Lahore Canal was originally nothing but an irrigation channel diverted from the Ravi to feed the pleasure garden of Shalimar and bring life to Lahore’s first suburb: the Mughal-era’s Baghbanpura. The canal was later straightened and led to Head Bulloki by the English colonialist as part of their great effort to irrigate the Doab areas of Punjab. The canal system introduced by the Colonialists and its augmentation during Ayub Khan’s time must be given due credit. It was only by unleashing the potential of the fertile soil of Punjab did the Colonialist feed the belly of its Indian Empire; and the Green Revolution of the 1960s is the reason behind Ayub Khan’s “Golden Decade of Progress,” whatever that means. Make no mistake, the canal irrigation system of the Punjab is the most significant event ever to have taken place in South Asia. Continue reading