Lahore Vision 2035: Program Design for Policy, Institutional, and Regulatory Reforms in the City of Lahore

Research Report

Lahore Vision 2035: Program Design for Policy, Institutional, and Regulatory Reforms in the City of Lahore

Dr. Imdad Hussain

In 2012, Lahore Development Authority (LDA) and the Urban Unit, Planning & Development Department, Government of the Punjab planned to commission the preparation of an Integrated Strategic Development Plan (ISDP 2035) for Lahore Region. The need for the ISDP 2035 was felt because Lahore’s connections to its surrounding cities such as Gujranwala, Faisalabad, Kasur, Sheikhupura, and Muridke had increased manifold by 2012. The intensified interconnections between Lahore and its surrounding cities required new approaches to urban planning. Secondly, it was felt that the myriad problems of Lahore and its surrounding cities could effectively be solved by undertaking urban planning at the level of Lahore Region. Urban planning at the level of Lahore Region required appropriate regulatory, institutional and policy reforms because the task of regional planning could not be accomplished through the then existing regulations and institutions. Hence ISDP 2035 was a timely initiative to accomplish not only the goal of regional planning but also the goal of providing new institutions, policies and regulations.

As the meetings on ISDP 2035 progressed, the Firms Project, USAID and the CPPG decided to support the process. They felt that ISDP 2035, being a technical undertaking, needed a vision. As a result, they jointly designed the Lahore Vision 2035 project to construct a vision for the making of ISDP 2035. Under the Lahore Vision 2035, research-based Position Papers were developed on the following topics: (1) Governance and Management of Lahore; (ii) Transport Planning in Lahore (iii) Water Supply, Sewerage and Solid Waste Management in Lahore; (iv) Real Estate Markets in Lahore; (v) Improving Trade in Lahore Region.

The project worked under the supervision of Dr. Saeed Shafqat, Director, CPPG while Dr. Imdad Hussain served as its Lead Researcher. A Core Working Group (CWG) was established to guide the five researches. CWG comprised eminent experts of urban development: Suleman Ghani, Dr. Nasir Javed, Pervaiz Qureshi, Rabia Nadir, Amir Butt, Chaudhary Arshad, Mazhar Iqbal, Sohail Malik, Raheem ul Haque, Nazir Wattoo, and Waseem Ashraf. A team of sector specialists, research associates and research assistants, drafted the Position Papers. The main arguments of these papers are briefly discussed here:

“… changing land use laws of the Lahore Development Authority (LDA) in favor of low-income people to help them build homes.”

The Position Paper on Governance and Management in Lahore by Khalida Ahson calls for maximum decentralization of the services and institutions in Lahore to improve its governance. It suggests establishing Union Councils as the local units of administration. To facilitate the working of decentralization, it stresses the need for undertaking spatial planning on regular bases. The paper’s model on transparency, accountability, and grievance redressal needs to be adopted by the ISDP 2035 managers to take governance closer to the people of Lahore.

The Position Paper on Transport Planning in Lahore by Sarah Mushir argues for eliminating institutional overlaps among the transport planning agencies such as Transport Planning Unit, the Urban Unit, Traffic Engineering and Planning Agency, Lahore Transport Company, and the Punjab Metro Bus Authority. It notes the glaring absence of usable data for planning of transport and suggests ensuring the collection and supply of transport data not only to transport officials but also to scholars, researchers, and community activists. The other key suggestions of the paper include: pedestrian and bicyclers-friendly transport planning; provision of public spaces along the roads; education of drivers; traffic management; and reliable public transport.

The Position Paper on Water Supply, Sewerage and Solid Waste Management in Lahore by Atif Hasan notes the existence of dedicated agencies such as Water and Sanitation Agency (WASA) and Lahore Waste Management Company (LWMC) as overlapping because of their inseparability. It argues for devising a system of joint planning for these sectors. It calls for eliminating exclusions in access to these services by adopting low-cost, self-help style of development based on Orangi Pilot Project Karachi’s component-sharing model. According to this model, the communities are trained to develop lane level water, sewerage and solid waste infrastructures for themselves while the government provides larger infrastructures.

“… adopting the principles of decentralization, affordability, local solutions to local problems, community government synergies, and social inclusion.”

The Position Paper on Real Estate Markets in Lahore by Dr. Sania Nazir Chaudhry argues for changing land use laws of the Lahore Development Authority (LDA) in favor of low-income people to help them build homes. The paper suggests: provision of home building finance for low income housing schemes; effective regulatory framework; and transparent transactions. It calls for a real estate market that is accessible and where no land speculation is possible. It calls for encouraging public-private partnership, and protecting and abiding by environment and public safety laws. It suggests to the managers of ISDP 2035 to introduce an effective tax regime along with promising fiscal and monetary policies. The proposals on Katchi Abadis development can help reduce the problems of housing in Lahore.

The Position Paper on Improving Trade in Lahore Region by Dr. Imdad Hussain calls for establishing an economic region of Lahore using the formulations of Local Economic Development Theory. It suggests to the Government of the Punjab to provide legislative mandate to local governments in the province to plan and undertake economic development. While encouraging economic development, Government of the Punjab should supply four prerequisites to the local governments: (i) setting up of institutions of economic development; (ii) the provisions for imposing and collecting taxes from the traders; (iii) providing land for the markets; and (iv) taking care of the environment. The Position Papers have been presented to a large audience comprising government officers, planners, citizens, and activists. The public seminars were well-attended by the stakeholders and citizens. The ISDP 2035 related agencies such as LDA and the Urban Unit have received the Position Papers well. Since the working on ISDP 2035 has started in 2015, the CPPG has been working with the LDA team on ISDP 2035 to embed the aspirations of the Position Papers in the ISDP 2035 preparation exercise. The Position Papers have been consolidated into a brief document entitled Lahore Vision 2035. This document enshrines the principles of Lahore Vision 2035. It calls for adopting the principles of decentralization, affordability, local solutions to local problems, community-government synergies, and social inclusion. It also calls for making Lahore an inclusive, safe, vibrant, educated, and healthier city.

The Position Papers and the Lahore Vision 2035 have been widely disseminated among the stakeholders of Lahore’s development. In addition, the CPPG continues to advocate the aspirations of Lahore Vision 2035 to the policymakers. A larger engagement, public action, and public-private partnerships will hopefully lead towards achieving the aspirations of Lahore Vision 2035. Putting the vision into action, it is hoped, Lahore will hopefully become a vibrant, dynamic and a happier city by 2035. CPPG encourages concerned citizens, activists and researchers to join hands in its efforts to advance the goals of Lahore Vision 2035. Interested readers should contact CPPG for the copies of publications.

“… a real estate market that is accessible and where no land speculation is possible.”