KARACHI: Almost half of Pakistan’s population will be living in urban areas with 17 cities having more than one million population by the year 2030.

This was disclosed at the roundtable conference on Urban Development and Economic Growth. The conference was organised by the Planning Commission to launch the task force report on urban development here on Friday.

It will be a major challenge to absorb such a massive number of people in urban areas and provide basic amenities like shelter, food and employment.

Speakers said that the existing urban physical, social and institutional infrastructure are not equipped to face this challenge, which is why chaos in many aspects is apparent in our cities.

However, they stated that despite all the negative conditions that make it very difficult for our population to live in cities, the ability to generate economic value has made our cities a popular choice for location. The economic activity in urban areas produces 78 percent of Pakistan’s gross domestic product.

Speakers said that although the subject of urban development is a provincial issue and the subject of planning is a local issue, the immense contribution and, indeed, economic potential, of urban areas to national trade and the economy gives the federal government good reason and strong basis to suggest areas of reform.

This rapid urbanisation rate in Pakistan coupled with poor institutional capacity, has forced policymakers to initiate dialogue and debate with all concerned stakeholders to help formulate an implementing policy for urban development.

PC deputy chairman constituted a task force on urban development chaired by Arif Hasan. Divided into five chapters, this report provides a comprehensive account of the urbanisation process, identifies major issues confronting towns and cities, analyses existing urban policies and makes eight recommendations to reform the urban sector.

The roundtable conference on urban development was attended by representatives of non-governmental organisations, donor organisations, urban policy experts, development agencies and local government. tanveer ahmed

Daily Times