Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Groundbreaking DCK Green City in Pakistan

Work started today to build a 21st Century eco-friendly model city about 50 km north east of downtown Karachi, Pakistan.

Named DHA City Karachi or DCK, the project has been planned by Doxiadis and Osmani Associates along with Professor Spiro Pollalis as its chief planner on an 11,640 acre rural site. Constantine Doxiadis (1914-1975) was a Greek architect and urban planner who planned Pakistan's capital Islamabad and several Karachi communities, including Korangi, Landhi and New Karachi, in 1960s. Pollalis, also of Greek ancestry, is a professor of design, technology and management at the Harvard Design School in Cambridge, Mass.

The DCK masterplan envisions a self-contained sustainable city with 50,000 residential and commercial lots, healthcare and education facilities, theme parks, a convention center, informal and formal sports and recreational facilities and resorts, retail and restaurants, along with all necessary community facilities such as theaters and civic centers.

At the heart of the new city lies the City Gateway and Downtown district that house the Central Business, Culture & Arts, Education, Central Market and Mixed-use Sub Districts. Careful consideration has been given to the distribution of land uses within this area in order to provide a vital economic and cultural heart that will support the city as it grows.

The downtown district will be defined by an automobile-free pedestrian zone with tree-lined walking paths, landscaping, water features, and piazza’s. The idea is to encourage pedestrian movement to improve the quality of life for the downtown employees, visitors and residents. An efficient public transportation system will help support this.

Based on the latest research done under Zofnass Program for Sustainable Infrastructure at Harvard University's Graduate School of Design, sustainable design principles have been implemented across the entire community. A strategy has been used to maintain the ecological integrity of the site through the preservation and incorporation of prominent natural features that are integrated as creeks, green fingers and wind corridors, according to

There's great emphasis on energy, waste and water management throughout the plan. There will be passive cooling and shades to reduce the need for air-conditioning in summers, extensive use of renewable energy from wind, solar and biomass, and energy-efficient LED lighting. There will be storm water collection through natural drains into lakes, and the community bylaws will require waste recycling as well as the use of grey water to irrigate drought-resistant native plants and shrubs.

DCK is an ambitious but necessary effort to promote eco-friendly and sustainable urban development as Pakistan undergoes rapid urbanization. But the past experience has shown that the actual implementation of such a plan will be quite challenging without the cooperation of its residents.

An even bigger challenge is the uncontrolled expansion of big cities like Karachi which are drawing more and more rural migrants every day without building appropriate new low-cost legal housing and infrastructure for them. The result is the mushroom growth of illegal settlements created by unscrupulous land-grabbing politicians and their cronies who profit from it. In the absence of official urban planning to settle migrant laborers, a burgeoning informal industry has emerged to fill the vacuum to build what are described as "Self-service Levittowns" by an American journalist Steve Inskeep in his 2011 book about Karachi titled "Instant City". With the active connivance of corrupt local police and other government officials and protected by politicians, the so-called "land mafias" grab and sell large swathes of vacant government land, subdivide it into plots, build shoddy roads and pilfered service connections for gas, water and electricity.

Here's how Inskeep describes one such illegal settlement in areas opened up and made accessible by a new expressway called "Northern Bypass":

"My driver steered the car to a section known as Tasier Town, which stood within a couple of miles of the new highway. It was in the farther northeastern reaches of the city, a bit farther than Doxoiadis's "ruined" old suburb in North Karachi. We stopped in a settled area to ask directions, and were pointed down a two-lane road. A market appeared to the right. A wide expanse of land stretched off to the left. Someone had posted a little sign on a little roadside building there, 2007 order from the High Court of Sindh directing that nothing should be built on that property. Behind it, on the vacant land, we saw homes under construction.....The local Home Depot was called a thalla, and Wahab, the boss of it, was thallawala. Like his workers-a so many newcomers to Karachi-he was a Pashtun from Pakistan's war-torn far northwest. On his lot, he sold most of the basic materials to make a simple house. Concrete blocks and roofing materials were cheap. Human beings were even cheaper. Wahab's laborers lived under a thatched roof near the concrete mixer.

Wahab said that there were certain expenses. Police sometimes came by and declared themselves to be shocked-shocked-that illegal construction was underway. The cops could not possibly overlook such an obvious violation unless they were paid.......I said goodbye to Wahab and went back into the illegal development, along narrow and straight dirt lane. Little ridges of dirt marked out the future home lots on either side. I chatted with several men who were laying PVC pipe in a trench, building a sewer line that would dump into the seasonal stream....Who was paying the men to dig the sewers? "A rich man", was all one said."

While Defense Housing Association (DHA) is known for developing upscale communities in major cities, Pakistani military governments have also taken low-cost initiatives to house the poor beginning with the urban planning and development of Landhi, Korangi and New Karachi in 1960s. Unfortunately, there has been little interest on a similar scale by the civilian governments to follow through on their promises of roti, kapra aur makan (food, clothing and shelter) for the poor.

Even though boosting legal housing construction in planned communities offers tremendous potential to stimulate and grow the formal economy, it is not being taken seriously today. It's much more lucrative for the politicians and bureaucrats to continue the current system of illegal settlements.

While critics jump at every opportunity to lambaste the Pakistani military for its various business enterprises, they pay no attention to the fact that Pakistan's economy has also been managed significantly better under military rule. It's not just the venality of the politicians, but also their gross incompetence that gets in the way. One need only look at the differences between Cantonments and civilian communities in South Asia to get a sense of who provides more competent governance.

Prof Anatol Lieven in his book "Pakistan: A Hard Country", describes Pakistan Army as follows:

"For the military, the image of paradise is the cantonment, with its clean, swept, neatly signposted streets dotted with antique, gleaming artillery pieces, and shaded trees....In the poorer parts of Pakistan, the contrast with civilian institutions-including those of government-is that between developed and the barely developed worlds....In the military headquarters, every staff officer has a computer. In the government offices, most ministers do not (and in many cases would not know how to use it if they did). "

British legacy of competence lives on in the Indian military as well. Here's a similar excerpt from a piece by Indian journalist Vir Sanghvi describing Indian military:

".... the (Indian) army sometimes appears to live in a state within a state. Visit a cantonment and you will be struck by the contrast with the civilian part of the town or city where it is located. The roads will be broad and well-maintained, the buildings will be freshly painted, the surroundings will be clean, and an air of good manners and civility will prevail. Visit an army town (Wellington, for instance) and the contrast will be even more striking. The order and cleanliness of the cantonments serves as a contrast to the chaos and filth of modern India."

I welcome the DCK plan with the hope that the green city will serve as a model for the 21st century and inspire private-sector developers to build similar project in the future.

Here's a video describing the project:

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Housing Construction & Economy in Pakistan

Emaar Crescent Bay Project in Karachi

Pakistan Military Starts Manufacturing Tablet PCs

Military's Role in Pakistan's Industrialization

Pakistan's Demographic Dividend

Pakistan's Defense Industry Goes High-Tech

Low-income Housing in Pakistan

Pakistan Launches UAV Production Line at Kamra

DHA City Karachi Report

Incompetence Worse Than Corruption

Food, Clothing & Shelter for All


Roland said...

riaz, may be of interest to you

Anonymous said...

i wonder how many pakistanis can buy a place there...

Anonymous said...

Riaz Haq said...

Anon: "i wonder how many pakistanis can buy a place there.."

There is tremendous appetite for high-end housing in Pakistan.

If the prior history of new developments by upscale Pakistani developers like DHA, Bahria, Emaar is any guide, DCK will sell out quickly as soon as its various phases are released for sale.

Also, I think DCK will set a new standard for green urban development in the country.

Hamid said...

This whole idea about GDP growth being better during the military is bunk. Of course there is so much funds available to the military so the the bases will be better than the rest of the country. More money spent on fewer military people compared to the rest of the population!!

Most of the better world is democratic with the exception of China and no other country can follow that model in the long term.

Democracy is not an event it is a process that requires a period of incubation and needs constant work to make it better. Yes it is not perfect but it is best suited to humankind.

Riaz Haq said...

Hamid: "This whole idea about GDP growth being better during the military is bunk."

Yeah, sure. It's the kind of "bunk" that is widely accepted by IMF, World Bank, and top Pakistani economists like late Dr. Mahbubul Haq, Dr. Ishrat Husain and others.

Hamid: "Of course there is so much funds available to the military so the the bases will be better than the rest of the country."

The funds available to military are limited and less than in many other countries, including India, where the cantonments are still much better managed than civilian areas. It takes competence to do it.

Hamid: "Most of the better world is democratic with the exception of China and no other country can follow that model in the long term."

"the better world" became "democratic" after it developed, not when it was poor, hungry and illiterate.

Here's Russian analyst Anatoly Karlin on "democratic" India's prospects and its comparison with "autocratic" China's:

It is not a secret to longtime readers of this blog that I rate India’s prospects far more pessimistically than I do China’s. My main reason is I do not share the delusion that democracy is a panacea and that whatever advantage in this sphere India has is more than outweighed by China’s lead in any number of other areas ranging from infrastructure and fiscal sustainability to child malnutrition and corruption. However, one of the biggest and certainly most critical gaps is in educational attainment, which is the most important component of human capital – the key factor underlying all productivity increases and longterm economic growth. China’s literacy rate is 96%, whereas Indian literacy is still far from universal at just 74%.
Many Indians like to see themselves as equal competitors to China, and are encouraged in their endeavour by gushing Western editorials and Tom Friedman drones who praise their few islands of programming prowess – in reality, much of which is actually pretty low-level stuff – and widespread knowledge of the English language (which makes India a good destination for call centers but not much else), while ignoring the various aspects of Indian life – the caste system, malnutrition, stupendously bad schools – that are holding them back. The low quality of Indians human capital reveals the “demographic dividend” that India is supposed to enjoy in the coming decades as the wild fantasies of what Sailer rightly calls ”Davos Man craziness at its craziest.” A large cohort of young people is worse than useless when most of them are functionally illiterate and innumerate; instead of fostering well-compensated jobs that drive productivity forwards, they will form reservoirs of poverty and potential instability.

Instead of buying into their own rhetoric of a “India shining”, Indians would be better served by focusing on the nitty gritty of bringing childhood malnutrition DOWN to Sub-Saharan African levels, achieving the life expectancy of late Maoist China, and moving up at least to the level of a Mexico or Moldova in numeracy and science skills. Because as long as India’s human capital remains at the bottom of the global league tables so will the prosperity of its citizens....

Anonymous said...

Thats right riaz then tell me why are you not saying explicitly in your blog that Democracy in Pakistan's current situation is rubbish and you need a military for the next 30 years??

India has decided to be a democracy its military is institutionally not capable of taking over.

Just look at the army chief having to plead to the supreme court to get his birth date changed and when refused mekly submitting his intent to resign.

Whether this was right is a very long term question ys China has outperformed India post 1979
proving that a competent dictatorship is better than a muddling democracy.HOWEVER Indian democracy outperformed China till 1979 and also avoided horrors like the cultural revolution,the great leap forward(and the largest man made famine as a result),1000 flower movement,gang of 4 etc.

Democracy may indeed be less efficient than a competent dictatorships(which btw are few and far in between for 1 Park chung hee there are atleast 10 Mugabes)HOWEVER it also limits your downside and MOST IMPORTANTLY is not dependant on that 'one great man' who may die or be assassinated or politically ousted.

Riaz Haq said...

Anon: "China has outperformed India post 1979 proving that a competent dictatorship is better than a muddling democracy."

Even before 1979, China outperformed India in terms of education and health care, making big investments and building the foundation for its rapid industrialization led by the Chinese military in 1980s and 1990s.

Anon: "competent dictatorships(which btw are few and far in between for 1 Park chung hee there are atleast 10 Mugabes)"

Pakistani military rulers' record is much better than 10 to 1. Just look at the graph I have shared in the post, with Gen Yahya Khan as the only poor performer.

Hamid said...

Are you suggesting Pakistan is better off being a military dictatorship? Being Pakistani, most of us know it is difficult to get defense related business contracts or even non defense business if you are not in the " circle" of military friends and I speak from experience.

Don't you think journalists or the average Pakistani should have the right to certain freedoms?

The military sucks up lot of rupees and even today no one asks for any accounting!

Riaz Haq said...

Hamid: "Don't you think journalists or the average Pakistani should have the right to certain freedoms?"

There is no right greater than the right to be free from hunger, poverty and illiteracy.

And the data shows that Pakistani military has been better at delivering these rights than the incompetent and corrupt feudal politicians who rule Pakistan in the guise of democracy.

Pakistan experienced significant declines in poverty and hunger from the year 2000 until 2008, according to figures published by the World Bank and the International Food Policy Research Institute in their separate reports published recently.

On education as a priority, Pakistan's education spending on public primary schools declined from 2.5% of GDP under Musharraf to 1.5% under Zardari.

Here's a quote from Pakistan Education Task Force Report 2011

"...under 1.5% of GDP [is] going to public schools that are on the front line of Pakistan's education emergency, or less than the subsidy for PIA, Pakistan Steel, and Pepco."

Real and competent democratic leadership will only emerge in Pakistan, as it did S. Korea and other East and South East Asian nations, after Pakistan becomes a middle class majority country.

Ramesh said...

If you must cite Anatoly Karlin you probably know what he thinks about the future of Pakistan. Here is a direct quote:
The year is 2062

India is in a worse bind, and not just because it will likely remain less developed than China to that time. The Chinese, at least, have the reserve option of migrating some of their surplus population to Tibet (or East Africa, if they conquer it). India doesn’t have that, and faces the unwelcome prospect of a further flood of excess population – this time from a collapsing Pakistan (the Indus to run dry by late century, as Himalayan glaciers melt) and inundating Bangladesh.

Hamid said...

Riaz said,
On education as a priority, Pakistan's education spending on public primary schools declined from 2.5% of GDP under Musharraf to 1.5% under Zardari.

I'm not fir the Zardari government. We should not default to the military either. How about better governance ala Imran Khan. It could be done. Today long term military dictatorship will hurt Pakistan more in the long run.

Riaz Haq said...

Ramesh: "India doesn’t have that, and faces the unwelcome prospect of a further flood of excess population – this time from a collapsing Pakistan (the Indus to run dry by late century, as Himalayan glaciers melt) and inundating Bangladesh."

Water is a problem that needs to be dealt with, all the more reason for sustainable urban development like DCK.

But climate change will affect all, and India is already dealing with erratic monsoons and other climate problems causing over 200,000 Indian farmers to kill themselves in the last decade.

India has a very serious overcrowding problem with its rising population and depleting resources.

With the growing population and worsening water shortages, the prognosis for hunger in India is not good, according to the author of National Geographics cover story in its 2011 issue on population.

India is ranked 33rd and Pakistan 39th among the most overcrowded nations of the world by Overpopulation Index published by the Optimum Population Trust based in the United Kingdom. The index measures overcrowding based on the size of the population and the resources available to sustain it.

India has a dependency percentage of 51.6 per cent on other nations and an ecological footprint of 0.77. The index calculates that India is overpopulated by 594.32 million people. Pakistan has a dependency percentage of 49.9 per cent on other nations and an ecological footprint of 0.75. The index calculates that Pakistan is overpopulated by 80 million people. Pakistan is less crowded than China (ranked 29), India (ranked 33) and the US (ranked 35), according to the index. Singapore is the most overcrowded and Bukina Faso the least on a list of 77 nations assessed by the Optimum Population Trust.

Do you know that India has been overpumping its groundwater to feed its growing population?

Here's an excerpt from a NY Times story:

"Worldwide overpumping of groundwater, particularly in northern India, Iran, Mexico, northeastern China and the American West, more than doubled from 1960 to 2000 and is responsible for about 25 percent of the rise in sea level, according to estimates in a new study by a team of Dutch researchers published in Geophysical Review Letters."

Cyrus Broacha said...

I disagree about Cantonment area in Pakistan(and India) being better maintained due to Military being better than Civilians in any way. The real reasons are as follows:

1. Population within cantonments are controlled - only families of people belonging to military reside there whereas all kind of people are free to reside in civilian area.

2. Workers in the cantt. area can be suspended or punished by their superiors but not so in civilian area. Workers are free to protest, stage demonstrations even abuse their superiors - that is not allowed by the military!

3. Promotion is based on merit in military but for civilians in the govt. it is time-bound and automatic. In India we have the added disadvantage of Reservation(a travesty of affirmative action) in civilian govt. job.

4. It is acceptable to us if the military fines us heavily for littering, breaking rules etc. in the cantt. area but will start crying if the civilian govt. does it to us - in fact rival political parties will take advantage of the situation.

So, ultimately cantt. areas are better maintained because we accept iron-fisted procedures in the military but the same is not acceptable to us from civilian govts.

Riaz Haq said...

Broacha: "Population within cantonments are controlled - only families of people belonging to military reside there whereas all kind of people are free to reside in civilian area."

In Pakistan, vast majority of residents in Cantonment areas like DHAs are civilians.

The other points you make just confirm my point that the military in South Asia manages better than civilians.

A recent example in India was an expensive civilian-built pedestrian bridge that collapsed during Commonwealth games in Delhi and was quickly repaired, rebuilt and made usable by Indian military engineers.

Riaz Haq said...

Ramesh: "India doesn’t have that, and faces the unwelcome prospect of a further flood of excess population – this time from a collapsing Pakistan (the Indus to run dry by late century, as Himalayan glaciers melt) and inundating Bangladesh."

Here are some promises by WAPDA as reported in The News:

“WAPDA is also working on projects that will generate 35,500 MW of hydroelectricity including 22,800 MW run of the river projects,” WAPDA Chairman Sahkeel Durrani said.

“We are committed to ensure that Pakistan takes full advantage of its hydroelectricity production potential,” he said.

The first unit of 96 MW hydropower project at Jinnah Barrage has already been commissioned and it would start operating on full capacity by the end of this year, he said.

Durrani said that the 121 MW Allai Khwar project at Battagram is almost complete and would start generating power within few months.

“Duber Khwar - a 130 MW hydroelectric project at Kohistan, is scheduled to generate full power by December 2012,” he added. In addition Satpara Dam is generating 17.36 MW of hydroelectricity.

The 72 MW Khan Khwar hydropower project in 2011 is already generating its installed capacity, Durrani said.

“This is a humble contribution of WAPDA to reduce the gap between demand and supply of electricity,” he said.

Work on high capacity hydroelectricity projects is in full swing. He said the feasibility study and detailed engineering and design of 7,100 MW Bunji project in Gilgit Baltistan has been completed and is currently under review of WAPDA experts.

He said feasibility study of Dasu Dam in Khyber Pakhtunkwa has been completed. This dam he added would store 1.15 million acres of water and produce 4320 MW hydro electricity. “Consultants for preparation of detailed design and tender documents have been mobilized,” he added.

“Hydroelectric power projects having the potential to recover cost in short time are darlings of world donor agencies,” he said. Finances for such projects are available with much ease than other power projects.

There are 17 run of the river power generation sites that have been identified by WAPDA experts and work on the feasibility studies on most of them have been initiated.

These include some high power potential projects like 2100 MW Tungas, 2800 MW Yulbo at Sakurdu, 2800 MW Thakott at Besham and 2800 Patan at Patan.

He expressed confidence that the speed of work at Neelum Jehlum Hydroelectric Project would accelerate as the high tech tunnel boring machines have arrived at site. He said this would help WAPDA to complete the 969 MW power project on schedule in 2016.

Durrani said the 496 MW Lower Spat Gah; 665 MW Lower Palas Valley; and 600 MW Mahl; run of the river projects would be completed under Public Private Partnership. He hoped that the private sector would come forwards to grab this lucrative opportunity.

Chairman Water and Power Development Authority hoped that resources for 896 MW Tarbela (extension) and 1401 MW Munda Dam would be soon mobilized. Munda with a storage capacity of 1.3 million acres feet (MAF) would also act as buffer against floods in Khyber Pakhtumkhwa.

He said Mangla raising would add 2.88 MAF of water in the reservoirs. He said 34 MAF additional water storage would be available after completion of Munda Dam, Dasu Dam, Gomasl Zam Dam and Satpara Dam. He said Diamer Basha and Khurram Tungi Dam - both of which are ready for construction would add 9.3 MAF in water reservoirs.

He said the current water storage capacity in the country is 11.91 MAF after depletion of 4.37 MAF due to silting in the existing dams.

vicks1980 said...

As an Indian, I completely agree with Hamid and Cyrus Broacha...militaries in both India and Pakistan get obscene amounts of money and resources. With that and freedom from political interference(which is the bane of civilian institutions)it is no surprise that the military is able to do things better.

Anonymous said...

Nowadays it's fashionable to jump on the 'green' bandwagon. Do we know about the DHA golf club that block a main natural drain in Karachi.

The army may have a good governance record, but that's because of the disproportionate funding it receives. It's because of the army that states institutions have been suffocated from growing and establishing themselves.

The army, being the golden child of Pakistan, is rarely taken to account for it's blatant disregard of civil institutions and civilian rights.

Zen, Munich, Germany said...

Riaz, something interesting for you - Shashi taroor on Aljazeera.

Riaz Haq said...

Anon: "The army may have a good governance record, but that's because of the disproportionate funding it receives. It's because of the army that states institutions have been suffocated from growing and establishing themselves."

Pak military receives between 3% and 4% of GDP, about avg for the world. In absolute amount, it gets about $6 billion, one-seventh of the Indian defense budget.

Unlike the civilian politicians, the military manages its budget allocation well.

The real reason for the lack of economic development under political govts is that large chunks of budget are used to pay off corrupt and incompetent friends and supporters of the politicians.

Last year, a govt commission found that subsidies given to PSUs like the PIA, where the govt appointees are looting the funds, are now higher than the education spending that has been cut from 2.5% of GDP under Musharraf to 1.5% of GDP now.

Here's how late Dr. Mahbubul Haq described political patronage as the crux of the difference between military and civilian management of the economy:

"And every time a new political government comes in they have to distribute huge amounts of state money and jobs as rewards to politicians who have supported them, and short term populist measures to try to convince the people that their election promises meant something, which leaves nothing for long-term development. As far as development is concerned, our system has all the worst features of oligarchy and democracy put together."

Riaz Haq said...

Zen: "Riaz, something interesting for you - Shashi taroor on Aljazeera."

Thank you, Zen.

"Behind Beautiful Forevers" by Katherine Boo is a book you might want to read to get a first-hand account of how the benefits of economic growth are going to a few in India.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an excerpt of a Huffington Post article on sustainable cities in Pakistan:

Thinking the concept of sustainable cities a dream in Pakistan, a Harvard architect has, however initiated an eco-friendly model city project, about 50 kilometers in north east of Karachi. Working on an 11,640 acre rural site, the project "DHA Karachi City" (DKC) will accommodate 50, 000 residential and commercial lots along with other facilities in eco-friendly manner. Building in compatibility with nature, the project would encourage combination of an efficient transportation system, clean energy supply and tree-lined walking paths for a pedestrian zone to maintain a healthy environment.

However, achieving sustainability would require some extra efforts to deal with weather extremes which are becoming a "new normal," even though there is nothing normal about it. Despite our small contribution to global environmental pollution, Pakistan stands as one of the most vulnerable countries to global warming. Karachi, for example, remains at risks of severe cyclones and sea level rise. The sustainable city concept would thus require good planning and strategies to protect its citizen from natural disasters.

So why take the extra effort? A new report from IPCC reveals that damages due to weather related disasters cost our world $80 billion every year. In Pakistan, the 2010 and 2011 floods are real life examples which put one fifth of the country land underwater with more than 20 million people affected. Sustainability in this way would mean a counter system to be in place.

We have a history of unexpected weather extremes in Pakistan. In 1992, there was flooding in Jhelum River. In 1996, Lahore city faced severe urban storm due to 500 mm rainfall in 24 hours. In 1999, a severe cyclone hit the coastal areas of Pakistan. 1998-2001 was the period of worst drought, particularly in Baluchistan province. In 2001, Islamabad city had 621mm rainfall in 10 hours, causing historical flooding in the twin cities. In July 2003, flash flooding affected hundreds of villages in Lower Sindh province. The 2005 heavy rains in Baluchistan, May 2010, record heat temperature, heavy downpours, and flooding of 2010 and 2011, are unforgettable events.

In this "new normal," efforts to create sustainable cities in Pakistan would not only be vital but also tireless efforts by the government and citizen of Pakistan would be needed to make it happen. Pakistan should learn from examples of different cities in the world which are on the track to become sustainable cities.

Scientists predict Chicago will face an 80-160% increase in days with 2.5 inches or more of precipitation by the end of the century. The city has over 55 acres of permeable pavement and more than 100 green alleys throughout the city to prevent urban flooding. Miami, for example, is vulnerable to sea level rise in the United States. Miami has accelerated restoration of vulnerable coastal areas and working on modification of vulnerable roadways to avoid homes and highways from flooding. Sydney is on its way to become a sustainable and carbon neutral green city by 2030.

The Karachi DKC project would also construct natural drains to collect rain/storm water into a lake for water recycling and its re-use for plantation and drought resistant native plants. In addition, the project would use wind, solar and biomass energy along with energy efficient LED lights.

Sustainable cities would be an ambitious plan in Pakistan. However, such initiatives are becoming vital needs to promote eco-friendly sustainable cities, which will not only provide healthy living spaces for their citizens but also will help them protect from weather extremes.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Daily Beast article on Bahria Town gated communities in Pakistan:

This unlikely playground for wealthy Muslims is the vision of Khan's boss and father-in-law, Malik Riaz Hussain, a 59-year-old billionaire Pakistani contractor. Set between the capital Islamabad and its sister city Rawalpindi, Bahria Town is the "masterpiece" of his 40-year career, a $6 billion project he has funded solo to avoid having to deal with outside investors. Its nine phases, too vast to fully appreciate without standing on one of the plateaus that overlook them, will one day mesh together into a planned residential city for 1 million people. The project broke ground in 1996, and already, many of the 50,000 luxury properties in the development are owned by wealthy Pakistan expatriates who swooped into Bahria Town after 9/11 to buy second homes amid fears they would be driven out of places like London, New York and Los Angeles. Equally important was the security and serenity that Bahria Town provides, which drew Pakistan expats and a smattering of wealthy Arab Muslims away from places like Dubai.

The complex offers amenities (24-hour armed security, schools, hospitals, a fire department, retail shopping, restaurants and entertainment centers) that go above and beyond those in many of the gated communities that have become so popular in countries from the United States to Brazil. Given the nation's security issues, it's especially easy to understand why the rich here want to cloister themselves. Rival Pakistani developers, including one owned by the military, have begun copying Hussain's vision, constructing their own gated communities in the suburbs of major Pakistani cities such as Karachi. Hussain himself is developing a second such site in Lahore, where former prime minister Nawaz Sharif already lives in a gated community called Model Town.

Hussain's original inspiration for the mega-community came from the pre-planned town of Reston, Virginia, just outside Washington, D.C. Materials and design inspiration have been imported from everywhere. In the center of roundabouts sit giant Spanish fountains costing $500,000 a pop; the main streets are lined with palm trees brought in from Thailand; grass for the local golf course comes from the U.S. state of Georgia; the education expert for the 1,100-acre university being built is from Seattle. "When I see America, when I see Britain, when I see Turkey, when I see Malaysia," Hussain says, "the only thing I think is, 'Why not Pakistan?' "

This is Hussain's key notion—that Bahria Town is a world away from Taliban and Qaeda militants, the assassination of Benazir Bhutto and weekly suicide bombings. "This is the real Pakistan," Hussain told NEWSWEEK.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's Gulf News on growth of upscale real estate developments in Pakistan:

Apart from ultra-modern residential and commercial projects undertaken on a massive scale, the concept of gated communities ensconced in the lap of extravagance isn’t just changing the dynamics of Pakistan’s luxury realty segment, but also the way residents of these projects are living in the country’s major cities like Karachi, Islamabad and Lahore. “The luxury property market in Pakistan has traditionally been unorganised and fragmented. However, the recent past has seen consolidation of a few developers who are stretching their capacities to the maximum to meet the growing market demand,” says Naveed Merchant, Managing Director, Merchant & Associates.

“REIT [real estate investment trust] regulations are in the process of formulation which will encourage large projects with sourced financing. While the Pakistan real estate market still lacks transparency and liquidity compared to more mature real estate markets, REITs would provide an opportunity to diversify the investor base in the sector through a regulated, tradable investment,” he says.

Nida Zahoor, Group Marketing Manager, Bahria Town, touted to be Asia’s largest private real estate developer, also vouches for this maturity in the market. “Generally the Pakistani luxury home buyer in this day and age, expects nothing but the best in quality. Most of them have travelled extensively to countries abroad, making them abreast with the latest trends in construction. Then there is also the growing middle class which is not as aware, but that too is changing over time” she says.

Zahoor says there is a shortage of one million homes in Pakistan with a 0.6 million (backlog) demand growing every year, which includes in it a large ratio of demand for luxury homes. In the next five years, predicts Zahoor, Pakistan will experience a tremendous growth in the luxury realty segment as awareness among the people, the trends, the policies by the government will give a fillip to this segment. So, what would Bahria Town’s benchmark project be? “It would be Bahria Golf City, Pakistan’s first ever branded luxury resort designed over a total area of 5.5 million square metres,” Zahoor says.

Bahria Golf City is expected to accommodate 18,000 people in about 7,500 housing units. “From architects such as BEAMS construction to Nayyar Ali Dada, interior designers such Wingchair, Cracknel landscape designers; and Kroll security consultants; we are working with the best in the world who have been involved in prestigious projects like the Burj Al Arab, KL towers, Atlantis Dubai and Jumeirah Beach Resort,” says Zahoor.

Bahria Town isn’t the only player in the market, there are several interesting offerings such as Lake City, a 2,104-acre development on the outskirts of Lahore, which has a plan to have almost 4,000 residences, hundreds of shops, malls and dozens of office buildings. “When the project was envisaged in 2004, it was obvious that future developments in real estate in Lahore could only take place towards the south and south west. The trend in Pakistan, outside Karachi, is not towards vertical expansion but horizontal expansion,” says Farouk Khan, ED Coordination, Lake City Holdings and Rida Sarfraz, GM Marketing and Events, Lake City Holdings.

Besides, there are other attractive projects such as Defence Raya, a 400-acre development and The Centaurus, a project featuring a five-level shopping mall, two residential complexes, the corporate complex and a luxurious five-star hotel in Islamabad...

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an ET report on Emaar Alma Townhomes project in Islamabad:

With Spanish and Portuguese architectural designs, imported electrical and sanitary fittings, ironmongery for doors and design-fitted kitchens, Alma Townhomes offer dream homes for those wanting to invest in real estate.

The second phase of the housing project, that was opened for buyers by international real estate developer Emaar on Saturday, saw a large number of potential home owners from twin cities showing up. The two-day event is being held at a sales centre inside Emaar’s 400-acre gated community — Canyon Views.

Situated on the Islamabad Highway near the Grand Trunk Road (DHA Phase-II Extension), the Alma houses target a major segment in the housing market – end users who are looking for an “affordable” house in a safe and sustainable community, according to Emaar Pakistan Head of Development and Projects Shairyar Salim. The company has completed the first phase, which is fully occupied.

The earthquake-resistant housing units, which occupy eight to 12 marlas and have three to four bedrooms, start with a price of Rs14 million, which is slightly high compared to Bahria Town’s Safari Villas and Defence Housing Authority (DHA). A 10-marla house Safari Villas and DHA cost Rs12 million and Rs11.5 million on average respectively, according to a Rawalpindi-based real estate agent Waseem Kiyani.

He said that a ready-made house on 10 marlas in Bahria Enclave can cost around Rs15 million with a one-year payment plan.

Facilities at these housing projects seem comparable, although Salim believes Emaar’s designs are more “advanced”, as they draw on the developer’s experience of making international housing projects.

The Alma Townhomes might also have a superior security apparatus. The integrated community has a three-tier security plan which includes two outer boundary walls and a security patrol on the streets.

“With Emaar, you’re confident that your money will not go down the drain,” said Asif Akhtar, a resident of the Alma Townhomes Phase-I who works for the Army Welfare Trust.

“They deliver on their promises, and their quality of construction and services are simply amazing,” he added.

The houses will be made available under a two-year payment plan and the construction is expected to be completed within that time frame, said Emaar Pakistan Head of Sales and Marketing Uzair Adil.

According to Salim, houses in Phase-I were quick to sell out and a similar response is expected from the second phase. The new community will also have access to facilities that were constructed for the first phase, such as a school and markets.

“The advantage of Phase-II is that the infrastructure is already present and the roads are almost complete,” he added.

Salim went on to explain that the houses will be built in groups of 50 to 60 units, with each group having a park, play area and BBQ area. Plans to build a hospital, shopping malls, community club houses and mosques are also underway.

Shaukat Zia, a civil engineer from Rawalpindi, who was present at the launch with his family, seemed quite impressed after being briefed about the project.

However, he was concerned about the investment, saying that a house in the townhomes seemed only feasible for the elite.

Salim said Emaar is looking to sell around 150 units in the first batch, which is approximately one-third of the total units.

Emaar Pakistan has invested over $2.4 billion in the country since 2007, according to information available on its website.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an Express Tribune story of real estate boom in Faisalabad, Pakistan:

Yet unlike stories of most other business shutdowns, Crescent Sugar Mills’ decline came not because of economic slowdown, but rather the economic success of the city – and especially the neighbourhood – it is located in. The factory is 100-acre complex in Nishatabad, a neighbourhood in Faisalabad that used to be on the outskirts of the city, but has increasingly become host to residences that house the city’s growing affluent middle class.

In the 1960s, Nishatabad was on the outskirts of the city, which allowed farmers to bring their sugar cane to the factory easily, using large trailers and trucks. As the decades wore on and Faisalabad’s middle class grew, however, many of the outer areas of the city began going through gentrification, and became residential neighbourhoods.

With the advent of more residences, the city government began placing restrictions on the movement of trucks and trailers that brought in the sugarcane to the factory. Many of the roads that had been used by the trucks were blocked off altogether for heavy traffic. As a result, the company’s logistics cost increased significantly, making it difficult for the mill to compete in the highly commoditised sugar market.

“With every passing crushing season, our mill’s financial health was going from bad to worse. We had no choice but to close down the unit permanently,” said Naveed Gulzar, a director at Crescent Sugar Mills.

But the higher transportation cost appears to be only one reason for the mill’s closure. Another, more compelling reason, appears to be the gentrification of the neighbourhood itself. The Crescent Group owns 150 acres in Nishatabad, with the sugar mill taking up 100 acres and a paper board mill (shut down about a decade ago) taking up the remaining land.

While both of these businesses were going through squeezed margins, the value of the real estate on which they were sitting was skyrocketing. At a certain point, it no longer made sense to manufacture low-margin commodities on prime residential real estate less than 10 minutes drive from the Faisalabad city centre.

And so the group has decided to shut down the factory, sell off the machinery, bulldoze the factory buildings and instead construct a residential colony, with all sorts of amenities, including a shopping mall, a hospital, schools, and colleges, said Gulzar.

The Crescent Group is not looking to exit the manufacturing business altogether but will no longer be in the sugar business. Instead, the board of directors has decided to open up a cotton spinning mill – that manufactures cotton yarn – for export. The factory, however, will be in a rural area, for which the group has already bought land.

“This land is too expensive to set up a factory here,” said Gulzar. “It is prime Faisalabad real estate.”

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a press release of Hitor Group in Pakistan:

Hitor Group Inc. is pleased to announce it has executed an agreement with Orient Renewable Energy (Ptv) Ltd. relating to the Hitor technologies including a Manufacturing Plant for the fabrication of construction components and systems for housing and International Housing Development Projects.

Hitor will oversee the development, construction, commissioning and operations of a plant for construction components and systems including but not limited to a manufacturing plant for Structural Steel Systems™ or other Hitor technologies. Orient Renewable Energy (Ptv) Ltd. will contribute it's contacts, licenses (as needed), agreements and relational know how and development work to date as well as overall Primary Project Development services in the provision of process development, negotiations with the local Government and approval authorities of and the financing required for the manufacturing plant.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's News story on gated communities in Karachi:

KARACHI: Nestled between Safari Park and apartment complexes that define Gulistan-e-Jauhar; lies the KDA Overseas Housing Society. Getting inside the securely guarded compound means offers a glimpse into a lifestyle very different from the crime infested areas that surround the society.

Children are seen riding merrily on their bikes with no adult supervision, while families and individuals can enjoy a peaceful evening along tree covered lanes.

It’s a scene that is at odds with what goes on outside. In general, Jauhar – as it’s called – remains crime ridden and violence prone. Most residents wouldn’t dream of a walk on their own, let alone with families. Increasingly, those who can afford it are moving to safer locales – the overseas society amongst them.

It’s a trend that’s increasing across the city. Gated communities in Karachi have increased by at least 20 percent due to the volatile law and order situation.

The rising threats of kidnapping for ransom and extortion are also major reasons that citizens prefer to live in barred streets.

However, as supply remains limited, gated communities tend to be expensive. Aqeel Karim Dhedi, Chairman of AKD Group, said peole prefer Clifton and Defence due to stability in rental and sale prices.

Dhedi said gated communities have better security arrangements. No outsiders are allowed to enter without reference from residents. This enables residents to enjoy a peaceful environment with their families. Children can move around without any fear. He added that new gated communities are offering a variety of facilities including sports complex, parks, health club, and play grounds, super markets, mosques, schools, shopping arcades, health centers and much more.

Besides the luxuries, another reason to move into a gated community is that it reduces the maintenance cost for security, sanitation, and other general utilities as a fixed monthly charge. The same is much higher in case of a normal residence. For example the maintenance cost in Creek Vista apartment is Rs.10,500 with additional charges for generator and water.

But it’s the new upcoming projects - apartments and houses that redefine the elite urban living experience- that are gated communities in the real sense. Apartment complexes include high speed and personal elevators, servant quarters and backup power. All things required for everyday existence will be available within their barriers.

Mohammad Shafi Jakvani CEO CITI Associates deals with properties in Defence, Clifton, and Shara-e Faysal. He said that the demand for gated community has made their prices appear to be on fire.

This demand that has led to the development of schemes such as LuckyOne at Rahid Minhas Road, BT Icon in Clifton, Com3 Clifton and AKD’s ARKADIAN in Defence Phase VIII. A joint venture between DHA and AKD group, it’s expected to be launched just after Eid. The prices are expected to be in the range of Rs.40million to Rs.50 million, Mohammad Shafi Jakvani said.

Com3’s prices are in the range of Rs.20million to 40 million depending upon the size and location of the property. Three to four bed rooms apartments and duplex houses (two floor apartments) are being offered on 40 months installments, a Com3 Official told the News.

LuckyOne is the first project to offer high end residences for the upper middle income group in the down town area. There will eight towers 1232 apartments of three and four bedrooms, with all facilities available in any of the upcoming gated communities. The most important thing is that the project will generate power itself to avoid load shedding, said Nasir Aziz, technical director at Luckyone .

Riaz Haq said...

Large turnout at Jang Dream Home Expo in #Karachi #Pakistan #Housing via @sharethis

70 organisations including real estate, building marketing companies take part in expo that will run for three days; Chandio terms event interesting

KARACHI: The enthusiasm of the people who turned out at the Expo Centre here at the inauguration of the Jang Dream Home Expo was remarkable.

The Jang Dream Home Expo, in which 70 organizations including real estate building marketing companies are taking part, will run for three days. On the occasion of the inauguration ceremony, the provincial Adviser for Information, Moula Bakhsh Chandio, saidthat nobody has rebelled against the Federation but only reservations have been expressed. He said that the expo will promote the construction sector. He said he felt happy being at an event other than a political function.

All the big brands of the country’s construction industry are taking part in the Jang Dream Expo being held at the Karachi Expo Centre from January 8 to 10. Overall, along with building, real estate, construction marketing companies, over 70 companies of house financing are taking part. These are Bahria Town, Star Marketing, Real Marketing, Frontline Marketing, G Marketing, Hyder Ali & Co., Gulberg Green, Gohar Group, LDA City, Safari Enclave and others.

No doubt, the presence of builders, developers and other companies relating to the construction sector under one roof is a very attractive feature for the people, and that accounts for the fact that a very large number of people turned up at the expo on the very first day.

The companies participating in the expo have declared it to be a very successful event. Not only the entry to the three-day Jang Dream Home expo is free but the administration has also offered a very attractive feature for the people, and that feature concerns distribution of keys made of gold. Under the scheme, 60 keys will be distributed daily. A large number of people were seen on Friday dropping the gold key coupons into the boxes.

Meanwhile, talking to the media on the occasion of the inauguration ceremony of the Jang Dream Home Expo, provincial adviser on information Moula Bakhsh Chandio said that the PPP government has not rebelled against the Federation, but it had just expressed its reservations. "Nawaz Sharif is our Prime Minister as well. This is our country, and we will highlight the areas where there are issues to be resolved. We want a continuation of democracy. In fact the Sindh-Federation issues are due to the fact that democracy is not very strong. When democracy becomes strengthened such issues will evaporate."

He dispelled the allegations vis-à-vis horse trading of Karachi’s local bodies’ representatives and said that the PPP government has accepted the mandate of everyone. Responding to a question about the Jang Dream Home Expo, Moula Bakhsh Chandio said that such exhibitions will give a tremendous boost to the construction sector.

“I hope that a large number of people will visit the expo,” he said. "It is a very good opportunity for the people to directly come into contact with the developers and builders under one roof. The event organised by the Jang Group will speed up economic activities, dozens of related industries will get a boost and people will get job opportunities."

The provincial adviser on information said that the Sindh government will try its best to resolve the issues faced by the builders. He also said that the government will play its part in the provision of gas, water and other amenities.

- See more at:

Riaz Haq said...

Doxiadis in #Pakistan: #Greek #architect and town planner Constantinos Doxiadis played a significant role in the #urbanplanning & development of the nascent state of Pakistan in the 1960s and master plan for #Karachi & #Islamabad | Online | November 16

University of the Arts London PhD researcher and British School at Athens resident Syma Tariq will deliver an online lecture on the role of Greek architect and town planner Constantinos Doxiadis in the urban development of the nascent state of Pakistan in the 1960s and master plan for the capital, Islamabad. “Dreaming of Entopia: Constantinos Doxiadis in Pakistan,” starts on Zoom at 7 p.m. Greek time. For details and registration, visit

Riaz Haq said...

Land Grab or River Revival? Inside Pakistan’s $7 Billion ‘Green’ City
The government wants to spend $7 billion to develop the Ravi riverbank, but opponents say that risks replicating the environmental and societal problems in nearby Lahore.

Warraich is among dozens of landowners petitioning against the government's plan to build a megacity from scratch on the banks of the Ravi river, a once-thriving waterway that’s been depleted by pollution and dwindling water levels. The $7-billion endeavor would span 46 kilometers (29 miles) and include housing, commercial areas, hospitals and schools — creating a metropolis that could ease pressure on overpopulated Lahore and support its urbanization.

The Ravi Urban Development Authority, a government body created to manage the project, pitches it as a green initiative that will bring in much-needed resources to clean up the river. “The idea is to manage the area properly,” says RUDA’s Chief Executive Officer Imran Amin.

RUDA aims to build a man-made channel and a series of barrages along the Ravi’s path to control its water level, which the authority says will help conserve what limited flow remains and restore Lahore’s supply of groundwater. But some opponents are skeptical of those claims and what they see as a land grab by RUDA. The city’s high court halted the project last year — one ruling in an ongoing legal fight for the future of the river that could reach Pakistan’s Supreme Court.

“This is our property. We don’t want to sell it,” says Warraich, sitting on a white plastic armchair outside his farmhouse. “They are acquiring our land for a new city” where local residents won’t be able to continue farming, he says. “I don’t understand this logic.”

Pakistan’s leaders have been trying to develop the banks of the Ravi for almost a decade and Prime Minister Imran Khan has made the task a priority.

The Ravi river was instrumental to Lahore’s development, but today large pockets sit stagnant while other sections have dried up completely. A water-sharing treaty with India has limited its flow, while Pakistan’s own mismanagement has exacerbated the problem. For decades, the river has collected untreated sewage from Lahore, as well as industrial and agricultural waste.

In recent years, Pakistan has developed legislation to regulate water use amid warnings that the country will face water scarcity by 2025. According to a government study last year, only 39 percent of water sources across 29 cities were safe for drinking. Cleaning up the Ravi could help Pakistan forestall an impending water crisis — its basin is home to some 50 million people and the river irrigates about 7 million acres of land.

These short-term solutions, however, will run up against the climate clock. Most of Pakistan's rivers are fed by melting snow from glaciers in the Himalayas, which are set to shrink as the world heats up. As global average temperatures rise beyond 2 degrees Celsius — a highly likely scenario based on current trajectories — the volume of Himalayan glaciers will be halved.

Global warming is set to increase precipitation across Pakistan, but climate models show the seasonality and intensity of those rains will become less predictable. That's bad news for farmers given the vast majority of crops grown in Pakistan are dependent on reliable monsoon patterns. Though agriculture provides less than 20 percent of the country's gross domestic product, it employs 40 percent of its labor force.

Pakistan isn’t the first country to try and solve its environmental issues with more development. Governments have plowed billions of dollars into eco-city initiatives everywhere from Malaysia to Iceland to simultaneously boost economic growth and adapt to a warming planet. The projects are marked by common features including more efficient public transport, green spaces and wastewater treatment plants,” says Amin.

Riaz Haq said...

Land Grab or River Revival? Inside Pakistan’s $7 Billion ‘Green’ City
The government wants to spend $7 billion to develop the Ravi riverbank, but opponents say that risks replicating the environmental and societal problems in nearby Lahore.

But critics worry that the new city, which RUDA says will take 12 to 15 years to build, will replicate Lahore’s problems instead of fixing them — especially its inequality. They also say the government’s focus on building a new city could lead to further neglect in parts of Lahore. As the city boomed, it has stretched west toward the Ravi, spawning packed settlements around the river. The area’s population density contrasts starkly with growing wealth at the other end of the city, where single-family houses built on large lots in private communities extend far enough to almost kiss the border with India.

Lower-income residents in Lahore bear the brunt of the city’s environmental woes, living in areas with dirty water and bad air. Meanwhile, wealthier residents are protected in housing developments that operate like private businesses with separate water supplies. “It’s a very sad reflection of what has happened to our city because it has been totally commercialized,” says Fauzia Qureshi, an architect and urban planner.

The question for residents like Warraich who are being pressured to give up their land is whether the potential improvements and compensation will be worth it. To create the proposed city, RUDA would sell land to developers, who would build on it under the government’s supervision. Opponents argue that the promised environmental benefits of Ravi City are being used to justify the government’s exercise of “eminent domain” — giving it the right to claim private property for public use — on land they fear will actually be used by private developers for commercial purposes. RUDA’s official land-use master plan sets aside space for a high-rise residential zone, business district, and area that will be called Sports City.

“There won’t be any forced acquisition,” says Amin from RUDA. “Unless it’s important where it’s [a] wastewater treatment plant or something which is necessary to be placed there and we will try our best” to give current residents “a fair market price.”

According to Section 45 of the Ravi Urban Development Authority Act, which outlines RUDA’s powers and functions, the authority may “use such force as may be necessary” to “eject any person in unauthorized occupation of any land or property vested in the Authority.” The document also gives RUDA power “to remove, demolish or alter” any building or structure as needed to realize development plans. There’s no guarantee that those plans will help restore the Ravi.

Raising the river’s levels by creating a channel and barrages will have “almost no impact” on Lahore’s groundwater levels, says Vaqar Zakaria, an environmental consultant. The city’s water table will keep being depleted unless groundwater usage by housing developers and factories is regulated, he says, something that isn’t addressed in RUDA’s proposal. “Those who are bigger and richer can bore and get the water from the ground and a poor man can’t afford to do that,” Zakaria says. Ravi City “is going to benefit a small number of people, and it's not going to add value to the average citizen.”

Environmentalists have also cast doubt on the other green pillar of the Ravi City plan: Lahore’s first wastewater treatment plant.