Prime Minister Imran Khan Thursday said progress was being made on the early completion of the master plan of ten major cities to contain their spread and to allocate separate areas for farming, accommodation and business activities.
“We are the first government to focus on this issue, and we want the cities to have high -rise zones, so as to stop their spread and ensure that food security is not threatened,” Imran Khan said while responding to a question about the loss of farming lands to mushrooming housing colonies across the country.
He said early next month his government was bringing in a new plan for food security and to address this crucial issue.
“For the first time a government is revising masterplans of all [major] cities and we want the cities to rise upwards, as expanding cities place a huge burden on provision of necessary services like electricity, water and sewerage and sanitation services.”
He cited the example of London, New York, and Dubai, which he said were living example of high-rise living. He said the haphazard expansion of cities was endangering the environment and said there was a need to preserve the precious agricultural land.
He said the master plan of the cities were in various phases of completion and hoped the first few will be available by the middle of the year.
Imran Khan said he was looking forward to the accomplishment of all projects envisioned by his government including the launch of two new megacities besides a Central Business District at Lahore’s old Walton airport.
He regretted that the opponents of the government from day one wished that the government fails, as they had some specific agenda.
“The people of Pakistan have given a mandate to our government for five years and at the completion of the term, they can judge whether we delivered or not.”
He said half term of his government had completed and the things were moving in the right direction. He was optimist that his government would be able to meet its target of construction of five million houses and pointed that work was going on for the construction of two major mega water projects besides two new cities – Ravi River, Bundal Island and Central Business District.
The positive impact of this huge economic activity would be evident soon, Khan said.
The Prime Minister to a question said the governments of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Punjab and Balochistan were very proactive in the housing sector, however, he noticed a lacklustre approach from the Sindh government, probably due to the 18th amendment.
When asked about the measures taken for securing investment of the overseas Pakistanis, Imran Khan said his government has launched a “jehad” against the land grabbers.
He was particularly appreciative of the Punjab government that successfully got vacated precious government and private land from land grabbers worth over Rs 200 billion. He said special courts have also been established to resolve their cases on fast track basis.
He said the government was also prioritising the provision of low-cost housing for the poorest of the poor and 7800 houses were being constructed with the assistance of Akukwat, a non-governmental organisation, which was providing interest-free loans. He said more funds would be allocated in this regard.
He said the Workers Welfare Fund project was lying almost abandoned by previous governments for the past 25 years and it was his government that revived it in the past two and a half years and turned it into a reality. He said with a subsidy of Rs 300,000 and low instalments, the common man will be able to pay instalments for the mortgage instead of rent and at the end of the day, own a house of their own.