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Save Lahore; Punjab Needs a New Capital
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The idea may seem bizarre to many people who affiliate with the might of Lahore. However, the ideas shall keep coming as long as life goes on. Hence, none has the authority or monopoly on the ideas. Then, the sages say that none can conclude the concept as none is the standard. Yes, one may include the idea. There is inherent inclusion, not the conclusion. Conclusions are consequential, transient and temporary. Hence, Lahore may not remain the provincial capital of Punjab.

The name Punjab means “five waters,” or “five rivers,” and signifies the land drained by the Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi, Beas, and Sutlej rivers, which are tributaries of the Indus River. Punjab is Pakistan’s second-largest province after Balochistān and the most densely populated province. Punjab has an area of 79,284 square miles (205,345 square km) and a population exceeding 120 million people. Then, Lahore is the heart of Punjab. It provides cultural, political and economic texture to Punjab. Even before the partition, united Punjab loved Lahore as a true beloved. Then, the division inflicted the love affair altogether.

Lahore is the second most populous city in Pakistan after Karachi and the 26th most populous city globally, with a population of over 13 million. It is the capital of the province of Punjab, the largest city. Lahore is one of Pakistan’s major industrial and economic hubs, with an estimated GDP (PPP) of $84 billion as of 2019.
It is the largest city and the historical and cultural capital of the wider Punjab region and is one of Pakistan’s most socially liberal, progressive, and cosmopolitan cities. It is situated in the country’s northeast, close to the International border with India. It is the capital of the Punjab and the most thriving city of the province. It is the house of the provincial executive, legislature and judiciary. It concentrates on the province’s social, cultural, political and administrative power. Hence, it symbolizes Punjab in content, symbolism and essence. The city is throbbing with urban migration from all over the country.
Consequently, it is over-populated now and a fundamental challenge to its past glory and existence. The city is not only growing in population but also size. That is ridiculous urban management. The area stretches 70 kilometres from all sides, and the population exceeds 20 million (temporary residents included) . Lahore Developmental authority LDA is responsible for developing the city. There are three fundamental land developers in the city. The DHA, LDA and Bahria Town have vast lands in Lahore. Then, apart from the legality of the argument, the DHA and Bahria Town have developed the housing schemes effectively, whereas the LDA is ultimately a mess. There are only a few housing projects in Lahore completed by the LDA. Then, there is RUDA in place, meaning the government does not want agricultural land near the city after destroying the vegetable bed in the town. There are serious reservations about the city’s development, but that is not the argument. Thus, Lahore is non-livable and can not sustain a new population or physical growth. The city is not tall but long. It is not the way a city is developed.

LAHORE is exploding at the hems and is now offensively disfigured. Can the new Master Plan-2050 for the city approved by the Punjab government fix the provincial capital? From the details, the plan doesn’t offer much hope for the multiple challenges — such as pollution, urban sprawl, housing, sewerage, water supply, public transport, scarce health and education facilities, traffic, vanishing agricultural land, haphazard commercialization, rising crime, etc.
Then, several administrative and execution handicaps face the 12m residents of the city. With the city’s population projected to double to 25m by 2050, its already inadequate infrastructure and public services shall not meet the civic demands of the city.

Organizing 25 million people in a city is a huge task. Then, there are so many cities in the world which are providing adequate civic facilities despite having more than 25 million population. Pakistan is facing institutional crises. There are no working organizations. The generalist bureaucracy leads all administrative and developmental operations. There is no concept of a city or urban development. Then, there is also no concept of rural development. The assistant commissioners, deputy commissioners and generalist heads of developmental authorities are the master planners. The looming fate is inevitable so is the case. Lahore is doomed. It will never develop with this administrative, organizational, political and executive structure. The population will grow, and the city shall be a mess.

How did the city stretch to Qasur, Sheikhupura, Gujranwala and other far-flung cities without planning? Leave it aside, can the city management cope with the 30 million people in the near future? Absolutely not. Yes, the city managers can cope with it on paper and rosy PowerPoint presentations but not practically. The city is ungovernable; thus, changing the provincial capital is the solution. Islam Abad is the new capital of Pakistan. Therefore, it is possible despite political, administrative and financial challenges. Then, several countries in the world changed their capital due to population and infrastructural issues. It is not a political taboo anymore. Developing new cities is healthy growth among all canons of administrative ideologies, including Islam.

The cities are built near rivers, so Lahore was. However, with the signing of the Indus basin treaty, Lahore was lost. Thirty million population shall never exist without a river. Then, India is not our friend. How can thirty million people be placed on a conflicted border? It is insane. The capital must have a river. Therefore, Punjab should have a new capital near a river alongside a master plan of the city. The adjacent areas of Jhang are the best tracts for the purpose. It is in the middle of Punjab. It shall also ensure the unity of Punjab. The population may be a factor, but the area of Punjab is small to be divided into provinces. Local governments can manage the cities. A centralized placed provincial capital shall bind the province together. It shall also emancipate the city of Lahore from over-population, smog and crime.

1 thought on “Save Lahore; Punjab Needs a New Capital”

  1. May another city “designated as new capital” may not face such issues, discussed in instant article? Is it not criminal to designate far flung areas as “Lahore” by the responsible ones to earn ulterior motives in broader spectrum.

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