Urban Planning, Governance and Public Policy in Karachi

The city of Karachi, is home to over 20 million people and most populous urban area of Pakistan. The total area of Karachi is 3,527 km2, resulting in a population density of more than 5,670 people in km2. The city has great pressure to provide for ever growing population proper housing; efficient, reliable and sustainable transportation system; Infrastructure; clean water supply and sewerage system; Power and Energy; public education and health care. Despite the impressive economic growth over past decades, Karachi has been facing problems of improper use of Land area, irregular urban design, deteriorating transportation system and declining work and living conditions due to environment degeneration.
To handle the issues arising for huge population growth, a thorough in-depth studies and analysis is required for proper planning achieve sustainable development and socio-economic growth in the region. Karachi is facing similar challenges as any other highly dense urban city of the world like Beijing, Delhi, Mumbai, Dhaka, Istanbul, Tokyo etc. The future challenges for Karachi can be
  1. Meeting the demand for housing for exponentially increasing population
  2. Growing demand for drinking water and efficient sewerage system
  3. Provision of reliable and stable energy to large population
  4. Rapid economic growth and industrialization to absorb human capital resource
  5. Pursuing United Nations – Sustainable Development Goals.
However, I believe having huge population and population density is not always a disadvantage for economic development and growth. The proposed research is to seek current policy approaches to face the challenges and maneuver these into socio-economic advantage.  This studies and findings of this research can be extended and generalized to other urban areas of Pakistan. According to rough estimations by learned economists, Pakistan is going through rapidly urbanization and more than 60% of the country’s population is living in urban setting. The potential of high density population is enormous in terms of human capital, economic growth and technology diffusion. Currently, this potential is highly under-utilized which should be raised to optimal level. There could be many ways and in various domains to achieve this task.
Traditionally, urban planning is limited to basic infrastructures (underpass, overpass, highways etc), housing, education, job opportunities etc. This planning provides the hardware for urbanization; however, there is little to no focus on the software.
On technological front, we tend to highly depended on foreign investments, transfers and spillover to other sectors and industries. One of the urban features is to develop its own technology and utilized domestically and export.

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