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Published Date: Jun 26, 2013

SDPI Press Release (July 26, 2013)

Underling the need for sustainable urban
development in Peshawar, speakers at seminar have called for devising an
overall strategic plan and a vision to manage urban growth in the city.

They particularly stressed on addressing fragmented nature of
institutions responsible for urban planning in Peshawar, institutional capacity
building, and pro-poor urban development that includes displaced people and
poor residents with adequate support for livelihoods and access to basic
services. They also urged long term and realistic strategy for Afghans
particularly residing in Peshawar .

The experts were speaking at a public seminar on “Inclusive and
Sustainable Urban Growth:

Challenges for Peshawar?”
jointly organized by Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI),
Overseas Development Institute (ODI) and Internal Displacement Monitoring
Center (IDMC). The event was based on the findings of a recently released case study by ODI on urban vulnerability and displacement
in Peshawar.

Chaired the proceedings, Khalid Masood, Head, Khyber Pukhtunkhwa Development
Advisory Committee Pakistan,  Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) stated that urban
displacement would not be a problem if holistic planning is done and PTI is
working on chalking out a comprehensive planning for Peshawar.

He said that Peshawar was always a trade city and new avenues can
be explored by strengthening the trade linkages of Peshawar within region
particular with Afghanistan and central Asia. He added that complete
repatriation of Afghan refugees is not possible and PTI is looking at the issue
with a positive dimension with investment point of view. He explained it with
business ventures of Afghans in the city and talked of bringing them under the
law with  legalization process,
protection and bringing them under taxation.

He said that Peshawar valley particularly the area around
Balahisar was once famous for orchards which unfortunately we don’t find now. He
informed that new government is coming up with the plans to protect
agricultural land in Peshawar valley which would start with proper zoning, land
use legislation and control of mushroom settlements and housing societies
around the city. Now the city would grow vertically with high rise buildings
and apartment blocks to spur sustainable urbanization, preserve agricultural
lands and revive orchards.

He also added that government is planning a mass transit system along
with proper police management of the traffic. He commented that good governance
and ending corruption are the key for success of any development planning, and
PTI has moved in this direction by setting up an independent anti-corruption
body which would hold accountable anyone in the province including the Chief
Minister.  Talking of improving the
security situation, he added that KP government is taking practical measures to
improve security situation in the province. He assured that people would start
feeling improvement and change within six months of the new government.

Irina Mosel from Humanitarian Policy Group of Overseas Development
Institute(ODI), UK briefed participants about the findings of recent report on
urban displacement in Peshawar. She explained the recent trends and informed
that Peshawar has experienced huge population influx over the past decades –
not only through displacement but also as part of normal dynamics of rural to
urban migration. “Peshawar’s population has at least doubled in the past decade
from 1.7m in 1998 to currently estimated 3.3 million,” she added.

She argued that urban planning has fallen behind due to rapid
urbanisation and presence of large numbers of displaced people in urban areas.
She said that basic services have become overcrowded and infrastructure has
increasingly became insufficient for growing population.

She concluded by giving recommendations and maintained that an
overall plan and vision for the development of Peshawar is required to manage
growth, ensure equitable access to services, and meet the development needs of
all residents. Urban planning has so far been ad hoc and service coverage is
uneven and there is need for an increased support to vulnerable displaced
populations living outside of camps. She supported pro-poor urban development
that includes displaced people and poor residents specifically targeting on
their vulnerabilities.

Saeed Ullah Khan, Country Director, Norwegian Refugee Council
(NRC) said that Afghan refugees are excluded from official population count of
Peshawar meaning that this huje chunk of population and other displaced people
which are burdening the city infrastructure and services are not catered in
policy planning. He urged demanded a new vision for urban planning keeping in
mind the growing population including people coming from Afghanistan, FATA and
other troubled parts of the province.

Zubair Qureshi, Head, Urban Unit Peshawar suggested integrated
approach by improving physical infrastructure along with introduction of institutional
and policy reforms for making cities more efficient and productive. He also
shared some of the new initiatives such as land use plans, strategic
development plans of Peshawar and all divisional headquarters, assessment of regulatory
framework for urban management , institutional strengthening of urban, mass transit
system, urban water and sanitation system, and city beautification and cultural
assets refurbishment schemes.

Dr Vaqar Ahmed, Deputy Executive Director, SDPI said that Pakistan
is the fastest urbanizing country in South Asia and this necessitates city-specific
development plans that focus on economic benefits of cities and brand cities as
engines of growth. He added that it is equally important to estimate the
infrastructure overload that takes place in cities as rural to urban migration
takes place or internally displaced people throng to establish cities, a
phenomena that holds true for Peshawar. “In order to manage that overload on
education, health, water and sanitation structures in Peshawar, it is important
that the new government of PTI in KP should now focus on enforcing inclusive
and sustainable urban management policies,” he added.