Karachi’s Physical Planning Issues on the Eve of the Millennium

6. Heritage

Karachi has some of the finest colonial architecture in South Asia. Plans for the conservation and rehabilitation for the areas in which it is located have been prepared by an Association of the Heritage Cell of the Dawood College, Centre for Rehabilitation and Conservation (an NGO) and leading Karachi professionals. Support from the KMC to this association has been sought. This support should consist of the KMC providing office space within the old city to the Association and considering the Association as its consultant (free of cost) for conservation and rehabilitation issues. Details are available with the Heritage Cell at the Department of Architecture & Planning, DCET and the Urban Resource Centre.

7. Control On Land And Grandiose Projects

Illegal land conversion and speculation are the major cause of corruption and environmental degradation of the city. In addition, Karachi has a history of grandiose projects for which enormous loans have been taken but which have not solved the problems of the city and many of the projects have not been completed while some have been abandoned midway. Concerned citizens from all income groups have been fighting against these two problems. To strengthen their hands and to promote transparency the following decisions need to be taken.

  1. All government agencies should publish a list of their real estate assets, their value, current land use and future plans for them. These lists should be available to all Karachi citizens, NGOs, CBOs and professional organisations.
  2. All projects for the city should be advertised, along with their costs, at their conceptual stage and should be exhibited in a central location. Public hearings should be held regarding them and a Steering Committee consisting of representatives of relevant interest groups should be appointed to oversee them. Quarterly progress reports and presentations regarding them and on them should be held to ensure transparency and promote public participation. Accounts should be presented in these reports and presentations.
  3. The projects should be firmly anchored in a government department who should be responsible for their completion. In addition, a government officer should be responsible for the project from commencement to completion and should be answerable to the Steering Committee.

These steps will ensure the much needed transparency that is required in the planning and implementing process in Karachi.

8.  Projects That Should Not Be Implemented

8.1 Lyari Expressway

The Lyari Expressway is being proposed as an alternative to the Northern Bye Pass. The expressway will destroy 25,000 homes, businesses, schools, clinics and manufacturing units. This will have an adverse effect on the politics and economy of Karachi. In addition, heavy traffic expressways are not built through the city because they create immense pollution. Riyadh and Bangkok are two cities that are regretting the building of expressways to their city centres. Also, Karachi desperately needs a space for relocating and expanding its wholesale markets, cargo terminals and warehousing. The Lyari corridor cannot provide this space and nor is it appropriate to locate these functions within the heart of the city. The Lyari residents have formed the Lyari Nadi Welfare Association consisting of 42 CBOs. They are against the Project and point out that truck movement will bring further environmental degradation and social conflict to their area. Details are available with the Urban Resource Centre and with the Lyari Nadi Welfare Association.

8.2  The Karachi Mass Transit Project Using Elevated Corridors

Corridor One of the Project, consists of 13 kms of elevated transit way from Karimabad to Merewether Tower and along M.A. Jinnah Road. This corridor is supposed to be built as a first step. It will only serve five per cent of Karachi’s commuting public and will cost over US$ 668 million. The other corridors may take decades to be commissioned. Karachi cannot wait that long. In addition, the construction of the elevated corridor will cause considerable environmental damage, destroy heritage in the narrow confines of M.A. Jinnah Road and take years to build. Also, this corridor does not generate commuters. The commuters come to it from Karachi’s rapidly expanding suburbs of Baldia, Orangi, New Karachi, Gulshan, Landi-Korangi and the developments around the Steel Mill. The citizens of Karachi have lobbied against this project and their professionals have produced cheaper and environmentally friendly alternatives that cater to a far larger public. These plans make use of the existing infrastructure of the circular railway and extend it into the Karachi low income areas. Details are available with the Urban Resource Centre.

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