When it Comes to Fundamentals

(Mehr Ispahani, )

When it Comes to Fundamentals


Iwas sitting in my lounge enjoying the weather and having a cup of tea when my Aunt calls me up. She is well-known to be the calmest and most considerate person that I know besides being a learned member our family but this time she was feeling disturbed. She is one person who I know hardly complains about anything but this time she spoke to me for a while about what’s really bothering her. She told me about the problems she is going through in the area where she resides; she said that she would like to shift to a better place where the systemis more organized. I asked her where would she like to shift from there? She said anywhere that has all the basic facilities telling me that she would prefer DHA or Cantonment Area of her city and out of sheer frustration started telling me about all the problems that she had been facing living in her locality. She told me that recently a house in the neighborhood caught fire and there was just no fire brigade system around the area. There is shortage of electricity; the electricity is not available sometimes for hours. The problem of poorly constructed roads is long engraved in the area. Litter, roads under construction, poorly concreted speed breakers and down-and-out drainage system on the roads are a cause of increasing accidents. Municipal corporations claim to have a dearth of enough funds for the repairs. Various accidents have been reported due to potholes, uneven speed breakers and roads under repair or under construction in the past years, and the numbers are ever increasing. A 45-year-old man died after his two wheeler bumped into a pothole. He fell off from his bike because of the immediate jolt and after that a water tanker coming from behind crushed him to death.

Due to lack of attention of municipalities towards city planning, the buildings in towns are overcrowded and cleansing thereof has become impracticable in most of the cities and towns. Municipalities could not improve the sanitary conditions of the towns. In some parts of the town, the width of the streets isso narrow that even the drains could not be erected and dustbins could not be put up. Municipalities should conduct periodical survey of the civic services provided to the residents. They should inspect the purity of water supplied through the taps, working system of drainage, dustbins, guttersand an arrangement for the solid wastes should be done etc., as the objective of local government is to provide certain civic amenities to the people at their doorsteps.

I wondered why DHA or Cantonment Areas? Cantonments have experienced vast growth since inception. There are a total of 56 Cantonments in Pakistan. As of 2013, the greatest amount 27 is in Punjab, then 10 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 10 in Sindh, seven in Balochistan and two in Gilgit-Baltistan. Cantonment Boards are providing education facilities to its residents through CB Public School & Girls College. The Cantonments Act of 1924 was a landmark in the history of cantonments, as it brought in its wake some sweeping changes. The act introduced the representative local government system, under which elected representative of the civil population became members of the Cantonment Boards. The Boards were created as autonomous statutory local bodies for providing civil services. The powers and functions of the Cantonment Boards are synonymous to Municipal Committees in the cities but civic amenities provided by the municipalities and income and expenditures of the municipalities and research on various aspects reveals the different causes for the failure of municipalities.

Talk more about facilities less fact and figure. Why 2013? Why not latest facts and figures. I was just wondering that my Aunt can afford to shift to a place with better system like DHA but what about common people who can’t afford to shift from a place, they have to face all these difficulties and suffer. No doubt that Cantt Boards provide a better system with much better roads,lighting and land administration. There is much better water supply with better parks an organized system of markets. A much better set up for sanitation is provided as Poor sanitation is linked to transmission of diseases such as cholera, diarrhea, dysentery, hepatitis. Poor sanitation reduces human wellbeing.

Pakistan has more advanced infrastructure than its neighbours. Among the modern infrastructure pieces in place are its motorway system, extensive road network, mobile telecommunications systems, airports, high-speed internet system, extensive railroad network, gas pipeline etc. Many infrastructure projects in Pakistan, including power plants and motorways, are being built and financed on build-operate-transfer. China stepped up its infrastructure spending after the 2008 financial crisis to counter flagging global demand.Infrastructure provides the backbone for setting an economy on the path towards sustained economic growth. The provision of basic and efficient infrastructure in transport, communications and utilities such as electricity provides an enabling environment for the private sector which takes the lead in growth process.

CDA has also not been able to devise any regulations or procedures which would ensure that the environment conserved or rehabilitated, bring reforms in planning and design wing. Green belts were once the hallmark of the capital – with the city’s greenery and landscaping famed throughout Pakistan. But CDA has allowed the belt to be encroached by private organizations and even government departments.Policymakers in developing nations have begun to seeinfrastructure development and intellectual property protection.Construction of new roads, bridges, airports, and seaports can help countries better handle the movements of high volumes of goods, services, and people.

If we consider China, a country having a developed and progressive infrastructure Complementing its rapid infrastructure development is China’s upgrading labour force. China is the fastest growing country in the world for last few decades and one of the defining features of China's growth has been investment-led growth. Why can’t we adopt a model of china for the physical infrastructure?

Globally, China is not able to exert the same level of political control as it can on its own citizens or semi-autonomous regions. Thus, it uses infrastructure as a method of infiltrating other nations under the guise of facilitating economic development.Our education focuses a lot on achieving personal goals like scoring well in exam to excel. Civic goals can get its due importance by getting enough appreciation for following it. We need to make plans for 20 years ahead with the coordination of sectors.

(Mehr is Peshawar based freelance columnist)

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