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Development work in Lahore: another view

May 03, 2013

THIS is apropos the letter ‘Work in Lahore’ (April 24) by Hussain Bandukwala. The writer visited Lahore after a lapse of 10 years and he was ‘simply amazed to see that it has totally transformed.’

It seems the writer visited only the posh areas of Lahore and didn’t see the living conditions in other parts of the city where the actual Lahori lives. The superficial cosmetic surgery of Lahore may be too attractive for the people travelling in luxury cars, but no government has ever thought of working class, which has practically no access to the basic necessities of life.

The public transport system in Lahore is one of the worst compared with other cities of Pakistan. Practically, no taxis run on the roads of the provincial capital. It seems as if the earth has swallowed all the much - trumpeted ‘yellow cabs’, while three - wheelers, that are rickshaws, are not allowed in posh localities like the DHA of the elite.

One hardly finds other modes of public transport like buses or mini - wagons. I really wonder how a poor relative of the people living in the DHA area manages to visit them.

There can be no second opinion that a lot of work in the form of roads, underpasses and widening of roads was taken up and completed in a record time by the Shahbaz Sharif government.

The same goes for the metro bus system, which runs at a total of 27km and has been completed at a cost of Rs40 billion. But what percentage of the population of Lahore is getting benefit from this mega project? A very small percentage indeed is able to use the metro bus system.

Overall, the public transport system could have been improved with the addition of new buses at every route of Lahore instead of spending that amount on a single mega project.

Beautification of cities is always one of the basic duties of any government. But it is not done at the cost of neglecting the underprivileged. Rather preference is given to the underdeveloped areas.

Unfortunately, in Pakistan, the case is opposite. A vast majority of our population is living in extreme poverty, and has no access to basic civic amenities like clean drinking water, healthcare and housing.

In a country whose citizens are without electricity, gas and have dilapidated roads, there is no justification for mega projects like motorways, metro bus system, underpasses and skyscrapers.

Development in a country cannot be judged by the construction of roads and bridges, but by the living standards of the people which in Pakistan is declining day by day.

However, utilising the available funds in other projects such as healthcare, better sewerage system, clean drinking water, improving roads and streets in underdeveloped areas could have resulted in better living conditions of the poor of the poorest.

It is hoped if Shahbaz Sharif is voted to power, in the coming years, he will concentrate on improving the civic conditions all over Punjab with particular attention to the areas where these facilities are non - existent.