KARACHI: Members of civil society on Tuesday expressed their views on the future of Karachi at a consultation meeting held at NED University (city campus) as part of the Sindh government’s Karachi Master Plan 2047.

Introducing the session to the participants, Dean of the NED University’s Architecture and Management Sciences faculty, Dr Noman Ahmed, said the government has been working on the plan at different forums for quite some time. It is now complete and initial technical assessment to it is being provided by UNDP. The urban policy and strategic planning unit of the Sindh government is responsible for it. When the sessions (Tuesday’s was the second of the series) will be finished, the next stage of the exercise will be a process of revision based on the opinions gathered during the sessions followed by the technical assistance phase.

Dr Ahmed said any city plan is a collection of different documents that try to understand the contemporary reality of the city on scientific grounds. It can be useful through effective information base, dispassionate analysis of the information, synthesising the knowledge and developing a process for implementation.

‘Chaos in every sector’

Dr Samina Khalil of the Applied Economics Research Centre, University of Karachi, was the first speaker of the day whose feedback was sought on the subject.

She said although she appreciates the plan, time and again such schemes have been made. We should know to what extent the previous plans succeeded because today Karachi’s map comes across as something done without planning — “there’s chaos in every sector”.

She suggested there should be a linkage between research and government institutes — no political decisions should be taken. She also pointed out the flaws in our governing system resulting in the chaos that she touched upon.

Karachi Water and Sewerage Board’s Ayub Sheikh said it needs to be seen how the de-shaped form of the city can be fixed.

The other thing that he mentioned was the lack of unity of command for Karachi, adding that to date we haven’t been able to figure out the exact population of Karachi. Unless that’s done, services couldn’t be provided to all spheres of society.

Architect Salim Bukhari said Karachi is a remarkable city. It should be made more productive to make it a welfare city.

Writer Ramazan Baloch said the plan mentions the year 2047 which means that by that year Pakistan will have completed its 100 years.

“I’m three years older than Pakistan. I’ve seen Karachi both in a good shape and in a bad condition. I’m here as a common man. The first thing I want to say is where are you going to make the plan? Karachi is not an open space. It’s a covered piece of land. We should analyse what happened to the previous master plans. Before partition, there were two such plans made by the British. Whatever the plus points of the city are, they’re to do with the British. As far as I remember, there was a master plan made during Mustafa Kamal’s tenure as mayor. Whatever happened to it, I don’t know. The second thing is to analyse whether the plan that’s being made is implementable.

“I think unless we control the burgeoning population, nothing will happen. When Pakistan came into being, the city’s population was 450,000, now it’s in the crores. Can we stop people from outside of Karachi coming to the city of opportunities? You can’t. But the administration has to control it…. If Karachi can be described in a single line, then it reminds me of a film that came out in the 1970s titled, The good, the bad and the ugly.”

M Imran, M Aijaz, S M Alam, Dilshad Bukhari and Tehseen Fatima among others also spoke.

Published in Dawn, February 24th, 2022

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