Chiniot Tackles Urban Development Challenges in Punjab Head On
June 3, 2014
- Urbanization can contribute immensely to Pakistan’s economic development if properly managed.
- The Punjab Municipal Services Improvement Project (PMSIP) is assisting local governments improve the quality of life in the cities and towns of Punjab, such as Chiniot.
- Project components include using GIS-based mapping for better planning, rehabilitation of roads, and improved waste disposal.
Each town and city can contribute to provincial and national development if urban planning and civic amenities are provided and maintained in partnership with citizens
By 2030, 315 million people are expected to be added to urban areas in South Asia. Pakistan will face some of the fastest urban growth, outpacing other countries in the region. If properly managed, urbanization can contribute immensely to the country’s economic development and progress. The province of Punjab recognizes the potential role of each city in the growth of the region, and is endeavoring to provide adequate and reliable urban services through local governments.
Chiniot, in central Punjab, known for its intricate furniture and artisans, had a population of 172,522 in 1998, when the last census was held. Today, it is one of the fastest developing urban centers in the province. With a rapidly growing population, Chiniot required strong urban planning for infrastructure improvement. This was made possible by supporting the local government - the Tehsil Municipal Administration (TMA) of Chiniot under Punjab Municipal Service Improvement Project (PMSIP), supported by the World Bank.
To plan for its urban needs, Chiniot required a base map, land use map, zoning map, and municipal services’ maps to facilitate yearly and long term development plans. Under PMSIP’s Institutional Development component, detailed information to assist in urban planning and infrastructure development was gathered through developing Geographic Information System-based maps. According to Tehsil Officer, Planning, Mr. Zaheer Abbas, “A number of maps have been prepared and are being regularly updated. Now we have guide maps on land use, roads, sewerage, and water supply networks that help us in planning and development of the city. We also received training for updating the information on a regular basis. These maps are really helpful in improving services in Chiniot.”
The project also helped rehabilitate and improve roads. A 700-meter long stretch of road between the busy Ice Factory to Slaughter House section was restored. According to Zahoor Ahmad, who runs a wood carving showroom at Ice Factory road, “It was not a road, it was a narrow alley, with heaps of garbage at every corner and was not even paved. At times it used to feel that no drainage system has ever been laid. In the monsoon season, we had to walk in knee-deep water. The road was restored a year and a half ago and because of the easy access, I now have many new clients. I can definitely say that my business has grown immensely due to easy and clean access to my showroom.”
Mohammad Tayyab, a resident of Chiniot says, “Until 2008, there was no proper system for waste collection or disposal. Any empty plot in town was used as a dump site and our neighborhood was smelly and unhygienic.” TMA staff has been receiving training on Integrated Solid Waste Management Systems and its operation and maintenance. The TMA has developed a 13 acre landfill site on Jhumra Road through PMSIP funding. This disposal site is at a good distance from the residential area. TMA Chiniot Administrator, Mian Jameel Ahmed further elaborates, “The project did not only assist us in the development of the landfill site but also helped us construct a Disposal Station and Parking facility in the commercial section.”
Provision of better municipal services also required that the citizens be educated about their responsibilities. Tehsil Municipal Officer, Azmat Guraya believes, “to bring change, we have to educate people on issues that hamper development on the personal as well as collective level. Therefore, we undertake frequent public awareness campaigns for all segments of the society. We organize seminars, school and college information campaigns, distribute pamphlets and use the mosques to spread the message of civic responsibilities.”
With progress made on a range of issues affecting urban development in Chiniot, the town can now be an example for other Tehsil’s to follow in Punjab.
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