Karachi is a city without a master plan for the last 34 years.
The last “notified” master plan was made in 1975 for a 10-year period. This means after 1985, no work has been on streamlining the growth and development of Karachi.
What is a master plan?
It is a document with a long-term plan providing an intangible layout to guide future growth and development of a city.
It includes analysis, proposals and recommendations for an area’s population, economy, housing, transportation, community facilities and land use.
The first such for Karachi was prepared in 1951 when the population of the metropolis was only 1.5 million, says architect and urban planner Arif Hasan.
He was speaking to students, social workers and journalists during a session, ‘Importance of mapping for better growth of a city’, at the Urban Resource Centre in Karachi on Wednesday.
Hasan spoke at length over some of the main issues left unaddressed for the last many years by the authorities concerned.
The second plan was issued in 1975. It was named Master Plan 1975-85. No ‘serious’ attempt has been made since to prepare a master plan for Karachi.
No mapping, drainage plans
In 2005, Karachi almost got a master plan. The then city district government was working the Karachi Strategic Development Plan 2020, which was even approved in the City Council, but never notified.
Hasan questioned the unavailability of a detailed map for Karachi or a drainage plan. “Is a detailed map of Karachi available? Does Karachi have a drainage plan? Can any city run without mapping?” the senior researcher and town planner asked in succession.
He said maps of the water supply system have been available since 1992, but no work has been done after it to change the infrastructure and no recent maps of the water supply system are available anywhere.
Hasan emphasised on mapping related to the density of the city as the density of Karachi in terms of population and high-rise buildings has seen a dramatic increase without any planning.
No government department is working on this, he said, adding that the Master Plan Group of Offices is not fully operational and there is no more a process of up- gradation of Karachi’s maps.
“You need maps at the union council level. A proper survey of population, growth, land in use, housing, community facilities in that union council should be evaluated, but unfortunately, no facility is being provided to perform these calculations,” he said.
The city’s sewerage problem was also highlighted by him. He gave three reasons why the streets of Karachi were inundated by sewerage water.
One of them is that the drains are blocked in several areas of the city. Katchi abadis have been established on rain water drains. All three routes of draining out rain water, he said, are encroached. Residential colonies at the Qayumabad, Northern bypass and Macchar Colony nullahs are covered in heaps of garbage, which is a hurdle for drainage of rainwater.
‘Political appointments ruining infrastructure’
Karachi’s infrastructure is in ruins because of recruitment on a political basis in the government, said Hasan. Political interference in civic issues, he said, has made the condition from bad to worse.
Many of the students participating the session shared their views too. In a discussion on why maps are important to construct any infrastructure, a student from Multan, Usman, who has completed his intermediate, said he wanted to know the technical grounds necessary before construction of a house. He gave an example of his hometown, Alipur, saying that people construct houses without any planning and do not follow building rules.
“I will return to Multan and build my house using the techniques I have learned here,” Usman said.
Hunain Naeem, a student of Karachi University’s geography department, said the session helped give him a basic understanding of house construction. He said his university was teaching an advanced stage of the same subject, which was difficult to understand.
Another KU student, Rida, said mapping is the best way to represent a thought or vision.