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Published Date: Dec 19, 2011

INDO-PAK EXPERTS TO EXTEND DIALOGUE ON PERI-URBANISM

Indian and Pakistani scholars have hoped for extending dialogue between both countries scholars on peri-urbanism, collaboration to integrate and analyze information about the degree of rural, urban and peri-urban characteristics. Both countries experts here at a recent workshop said it during project inception workshop of two-year track-II project titled “Rural to urban transitions and the peri-urban interface: Identifying, mapping, and understanding peri-urban areas in India and Pakistan”. The workshop was organized by Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI), Islamabad in collaboration with East-West Center (EWC), Honolulu, USA and South Asia Consortium for Interdisciplinary Water Resources Studies (SaciWATERs), Hyderabad, India.

The track-II project is being funded by the US State department and one of the core objectives of the project is to engage youth and students in joint discussions and researchers on issues of peri-urbanization.

It was explained that peri-urban areas are transition zones where urban and rural activities are juxtaposed and landscape features are subject to rapid modifications induced by human activities.
Peri-urban areas occupy large portions of national landscapes and are home to hundreds of millions of people. They face unique problems including intense pressures on resources, slum formation, lack of adequate services such as water and sanitation, poor planning and degradation of farmland.
These areas are often neglected by both rural and urban administrators because they are located beyond the administrative boundaries of cities in zones that are generally not identified as specific entities of planning.
Dr Sumeet Saksena of the East-West Centre USA gave a brief introduction of his 50-years old organization which was created by the department of State to ensure cooperation between US and Asia Pacific on research and cultural promotion with a particular focus on youth and students.
He said there is no clear definition of “peri-urban” and urged a working definition for South Asia to enable to stakeholder to take care of basic services of citizens in these areas and hoped this process will also help to determine a research agenda for better governance of environmental and health issues in these areas.
Shams-ul-Mulk, former chairman WAPDA was of the view that in 21st century both India and Pakistan have no other options but to cooperate with each other as both countries have same problems and same institutional frameworks for a very long time.
He underscored massive unplanned urbanization and cities and their safe drinking water and health issues need immediate attention.
Daniyal Aziz, former chairman National Reconstruction Bureau (NRB) highlighted the evolution of today’s unplanned urbanization.
“Despite their exponential population growth, several rural towns and villages could not be declared as municipal towns due to absence of fresh census and will for investment which resulted into absence of municipal services in these areas,’ he added.
Dr Anjal Prakash of SaciWATERs, India hoped students exchange program and water issues have been central to their work so far and this project will strengthen the project partners for more effective and result-oriented initiatives for peri-urban communities.
Dr Vishal Narain of Management Development Institute, India highlighted emerging peri-urban water issues from Gurgaon, India, and Dr Jefferson M Fox from East-West Centre shared insights about peri-urbanization in South East Asia.
While Dr Nuzrat Yar Khan of SDPI and Dr Prakash Nellivat also highlighted the urban and peri-urban issues in Pakistan and India, respectively.