In juxtaposition to our editorial one day prior on the real estate boom in some of Pakistan’s major cities, there is a dark side to the rapid construction of high-rise buildings, particularly in Karachi. Karachi is probably most infamous of the cities for haphazard city projects, whether we speak of road construction or the establishment of skyscrapers, both of which are currently occurring. The trouble with the projects is that they are ill-planned with citizens having no prior knowledge of road closings or detours. City planning in terms of high-rise construction is found to be nonexistent. In the past few years that residents have occupied several large apartment complexes, they have complained of a lack of water and improper sewerage disposal systems. The complaints will only multiply over the coming years as construction continues. The ability to change the situation lies with the stakeholders and policy boards that have been somewhat irresponsible with arbitrarily granting permits and water lines for major projects across Karachi.
Most blameworthy is perhaps the changing of by-laws by cantonment boards. The swiftness and ease with which rules were simply changed to accommodate money-making ventures is unethical and immoral. It elucidates that the city simply does not have a backbone and creates ad hoc policies to benefit some. Simply demolishing new projects may be counterproductive, some scrutiny should be undergone by the institutions involved. The hallmark of long-lasting development is to have policies in place that are sensible and facilitate development through proper channels, rather than encouraging builders and contractors to pursue illegal channels. The Sindh Building Control Authority has been barred from issuing anymore approvals for skyscrapers, but it must be ascertained that this ruling by the judicial commission is not breached. With uncontrollable growth in Karachi’s population, there is a need for more housing; this also means we first need logical and immaculate city planning through consultation with urban development experts.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 8th, 2017.
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