Understanding Asian Cities

Master Plans and Housing Policies in Karachi

Since 1947, the growth in housing needs and the resultant formal sector housing policies and master plans can be divided into six phases.

5.1 Phase 1: 1947-1957

After the partition of India when Karachi became the capital of Pakistan, 600, 000 refugees from India moved into the city and its population rose from 400, 000 to a million in 195176. A vast majority of the refugees was poor and destitute. They were allowed to occupy all open spaces in the city centre including parks, playgrounds, school buildings, and cantonment land. This resulted in the formation of impermanent tent settlements (locally referred to as “Jhuggi”) and encroachments all over the inner city. Tent settlements were made of material donated by European countries to the newly established State of Pakistan with one family housed in each tent and a community tap and toilets provided for every four tents77 . The Jhuggi was made of cardboard boxes, reeds, bamboo, cloth and other recycled materials. Since then, many of these settlements have been shifted elsewhere, but some still survive in the ecologically hazardous zones of the city.

76 Facts and Figures from, Hasan Arif, “ Housing for the Poor, Failure of Formal Sector Strategies”, City Press, Karachi, 2000 77 Information collected through interviews with Planners; Islamuddin Siddiqui and Shahab Afroze Alvi, ex-employees Karachi Development Authority (KDA).

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