Karachi’s urban infrastructure and public services are creaking with the weight of its burgeoning population. Years of neglect by the authorities and empty coffers have added to its woes. With multiple civic agencies working independently, and often at cross purposes, the mega city reflects a chaos of gargantuan proportions.
Acerbic commentators sometimes liken the city with that of an orphan child left uncared for by the federal and provincial governments. Amid this picture of pessimism, a grand development package announced by Prime Minister Imran Khan on Saturday to address its lingering issues comes as a beacon of hope.
During his official visit to the city, the premier unveiled a Rs162 billion package which includes grants for 18 projects, which will be focused on priority areas such as transportation and water provision. Of these schemes, 10 are related to the development of the public transport network in the city. Seven other projects are related to the water and sewerage infrastructure.
He placed stress on the importance of water conservation in Karachi and regretted that no plan to preserve water had been formulated by previous governments. He urged a high-powered panel to start a campaign to conserve the precious resource.
The PM said that while a master plan for Karachi was essential, an interim plan for the city should be put in place to address the pressing challenges that the metropolis is facing. He was of the view that horizontal expansion of the city should be stopped and the slum areas of the city should be developed.
The same day saw him inaugurate a major park and stress the need of planting more trees and expanding the green cover. He bemoaned that the provincial capital had become what he called a ‘concrete slab’ and said the government will allow the construction of more high-rise buildings in the city in order to prevent them from expanding and taking over land that can be used to plant trees. Even though his detractors say the promises made by the PM during his Karachi visit will turn out to be empty, we should wait and watch with our fingers crossed.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 1st, 2019.
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