The Punjab government has embarked on its ambitious project of setting up a modern city near Lahore. The idea is good but fraught with many challenges. Whether the project will see the light of the day is a million dollar question. No one will deny the fact that the establishment of a new city keeping in view social, economic and urban requirement is need of the hour. Currently, the provincial capital is expanding haphazardly and needs proper planning for creation of new and planned housing and industrial zones to accommodate the increasing population.
Some progress has been made as the Ravi Riverfront Urban Development Authority is looking after the multi-billion Ravi Riverfront Project for developing the modern city to be spread over more than 100,000 acres. The project is aimed at resolving the issues of traffic congestion, water shortage and environmental pollution in Lahore besides re-distributing urban development to re-locate the crowded zones and foster economy. In this regard, certain challenges are posing a threat to the whole idea.
The first problem obviously relates to basic amenities like the availability of clean water, which is very much essential. The river Ravi water has become so much polluted due to sewerage and industrial waste that it needs a long term solution. So, it is necessary to first treat or filter the polluted water coming from India and then let it pass before storing it into dams. The issue of arranging financing is another critical issue as it is expected that Rs5 trillion would be required to develop the city. In this regard, the private sector and foreign investment can play a crucial role. Already, a Saudi Real Estate Company led by Khalid Abdul Aziz has been agreed to make an investment of about US $ 600 million in this sector for developing the entire industrial zone near Ravi so that the industrial zone’s environment could be refined on modern lines. Land acquisition and the laying of road infrastructure are other challenges that need to be overcome by the government. Hopefully, the cherished dream of a new modern city is materialized for the common good of the masses.