HYDERABAD: Hyderabad Mayor Kashif Shoro has expressed concern over conversion of farmland into commercial and residential areas and believed it is the main reason behind fast degradation of civic amenities, which has made the city vulnerable to all kinds of hazards.

Shoro said at a meeting held at the mayor’s secretariat here on Thursday to finalise the city’s Master Plan 2047 that he had personally witnessed poor state of civic facilities in past and always believed construction on agricultural land had played havoc with the city.

He said that he recently visited Hyderabad’s rural area and was shocked to see that housing schemes had been launched on large swathes of fertile farmland.

The master plan envisaged Rs500m for making the city sustainable and liveable in future, he said.

Municipal commissioner Anees Ahmed Dasti said the prime objective of the meeting was to see how better urban planning and utilisation of land could be done.

He said that Hyderabad was the second largest city of Sindh and its population was growing day by day. “We need to have proper planning that meet our needs till 2047. The master plan will cover drainage, clean air, agriculture activities, pure drinking water and availability of civic facilities,” he said.

Imtiaz Ahmed Chandio, director of the Mehran University’s city and regional planning department, said that it would be better to assign responsibilities of planning to MUET rather than to float tenders, hand over the task to some non-professionals and spend public exchequer funds on poor planning, which was already playing havoc with infrastructure.

He regretted that parking and traffic issue had grown worse in the city although past government had launched a noteworthy project of Red Bus but it was insufficient to cater to the needs of city’s population.

He underlined the need for planning better roads and transport system to minimise peoples’ dependence on private transport and asked why government departments avoided seeking professional help from universities although the university teachers were always ready to help the city administration.

ADC-I Najeebur Rehman Jamali said the master plan would not work in future without detailed study of population growth, mainly caused by migration from rural to urban areas.

He said that demographic study was needed to make the plan successful. Civil Hospital, which had become overcrowded and commercial markets should be shifted outside the city to make the city peaceful, he said.

Hyderabad Development Authority’s director general, Zahid Hussain Shar, said that it was the first time that stakeholders were discussing planning for future generation. Hyderabad’s population growth ratio was 2.1 but “we don’t have data of those migrating to Hyderabad”.

The mayor directed the stakeholders to submit their proposals for the Master Plan 2047 so that the suggestions could be incorporated in the plan.

Published in Dawn, December 8th, 2023

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