Construction industry is one of the largest sectors having a large number of sub-sectors which provide a massive support to the economic development of any country. A vibrant construction industry is bound to create millions of job opportunities in view of its alliance with a large number of sub sectors like cement, steel, woodworks, tiles, glass fixtures and a variety of other industries. In this backdrop an active construction industry is considered as of vital importance for its trickle down effects to the grass root level.
The developed economies like China, Japan, Western Europe, even in the Middle East and the United State are some of examples where the construction industry as well as property development have played a pivotal role not only in growth but social and political stability as well.
However the smooth running of construction industry and property development calls for a strong infrastructure base especially efficient utility services like uninterrupted electric gas, water supplies and sewerage system, better roads and means of transport and of course peace and stability to attract domestic as well as foreign investment.
Unfortunately most of the essentially basic infrastructure facilities are missing in our case primarily due to ill planned schemes, lack of coordination amongst various utilities and administrative department responsible for development. It will be interesting to note that currently the gas supplies are disrupted in various localities due to eroded pipelines. For example, supply of gas is completely suspended to the residents of Azambasti adjacent to Defence Housing Society Phase 5 for the last ten days. When contact SSGC officials they said that pipeline network has been damaged and need fresh lines to resume gas supplies, however they are willing lay new lines but the city government people are not allowing road cutting and asking for huge money before cutting the roads for the new lines. This sort of dispute among two government agencies is a glaring example of non-cooperation among the development agencies which is punishing the consumers and creating hardships for the entire locality.
It is painful to note that these entities instead of supporting development are severally infected and infested with corruption to serve personal interests. It is funny to note that Karachi Development Authority which was primarily supposed to develop the city on scientific lines keeping in view of future growth of population was more interested to grab the best land available in Karachi to build housing society for the officers and staff working in KDA rather than How the officers of defunct KDA were allowed to grab the most prestigious and costly piece of land adjacent to National Stadium allotted by themselves by the then officers for development a KDA officers Housing Society at the cost of the city and its people. The authorities in the previous governments also kept a mum over malpractice because the people at the helm of affairs were also involved in this scheme.
Recently Shura Hamdard Karachi chapter organized an interesting discussion over the development of Karachi which made a mess of the city.
While discussing the unplanned urbanization in Pakistan particularly in Karachi the speakers urged the government of Sindh to chalk out a master plan for Karachi and implement it at the earliest as most of the unplanned colonies inhabited in Karachi have created a cluster of civic problems besides segregating the city on ethnic lines.
The Hamdard Shura meeting was held to discuss “Spreading of cities and socio-economic problems, presided over by Hiziqul Khairi, former Chief Justice, Federal Sharriat Court. Mrs. Sadia Rashid, President, Hamdard Foundation Pakistan was also present at the meeting.
Speaking on the occasion, Engineer Islam Nabi, former federal minister for production said that unlimited extension of cities always create great socio-economic problems and Karachi was the best example of it. This city gave 70 per cent revenue to government but in return received meager amount for its development and welfare and as a result of this treatment many mafias had flourished which became like incurable wound, he added.
Citing the failure of so called water utility Karachi Water & Sewerage Board, they said that tanker mafia was supplying filthy water to Karachites and creating stomach and kidney diseases among the people while kunda mafia compelled the honest consumers to pay the amount of its 30 per cent theft electricity through their bills as KESC included this amount in bills in the name of different taxes, duties and meter rent. He suggested that electric meter fast calibration be made compulsory by an independent body and further said that the only answer of Karachi transport problem was construction of subway and flyover transport system.
Justice – Haziul Khairi was of the view that the one or two percent state duty, which was imposed on the property and assets of a wealthy deceased when they were going to be distributed among his/her heirs in British days and continued in Pakistan 2 or 3 years after 1947, be imposed again now in order to increase government income.
Engineer Anwarul Haq Siddiqui said that Karachi was a mega city, having population more than 34/35 countries of the world. Being mega city its problems should be solved on the pattern of Istanbul , Turkey as the Turks had made planning for it up to 2050.
The solution of our socio-economic problems lies in education, but it should be job oriented and be able to create expertise and skills among our youths who constitute 60 per cent of our population, he said adding, the irony of Karachi was that this city had no master plan and it was the result of feudal mindset, the root cause of all country’s ills.
Prof. Dr. Akhlaque Ahmed suggested that an association of consumers should be formed in order to raise voice for them. There was no census, taken place in the country since 1998. Lands, roads, shops and transports of Karachi were grasped by mafia of different type. Social evils were rampant and weapons holders had acquired controlling authority. Good governance and civic sense could control this situation but without mass education civic sense could not be created in the country, he added.
Professor Muhammad Rafi suggested that small courts should be set up in each district to resolve disputes and problems on local basis and administration be made localized.
Haq Nawaz Akhtar said when all facilities of employments, health and education were heaped up at the cities, village people of all over the country were bound to amass at cities. There were many empty places and natural ports in Balochistan, but industries were not set up there. It was the need of the hour that opportunities of employments and basic needs should be created in rural areas to avoid the overflow of village population to cities, he added. Col. Mukhtar Ahmed Butt said that no one took the ownership of Karachi City and lack of planning made the city a problematic place to live in. Commodore – Sadeed Anwar Malik was of the view that problems of Karachi were the result of unemployment, lack of planning, health and education facilities and polarization.