By Taj Nabi Khan
ISLAMABAD, May 30 (APP):Large scale migration from rural areas to bigger cities for better access to basic services and employment opportunities without proper urban planning has caused rapid urbanization while adversely affecting standard of living in mega cities of the country.
In developed countries, cities are the engines of economic growth, innovations and entrepreneurship. But in Pakistan, the huge flow of migration due to multiple factors has turned the cities into hotbeds of discontent caused by the overpopulation.
The massive urbanization has also made it a challenge for the policymakers to make planning for thickly populated urban centers. Therefore, if not all, majority of urban areas are being faced with air and noise pollution, water, sanitation and transport issues due to lack of proper sewerage and waste disposal mechanism.
The urbanization challenge seeks serious attention of the policymakers to strike balance between the industrial growth and basic needs of the residents. Similarly, the agriculture sector which dominated the country’s economy for decades should also be focused for sustainable growth and food security.
But over the years, the unplanned urbanization without sound public policies has posed a number of challenges by creating urban slums and environmental degradation. Therefore, urbanization seeks well-conceived policies for ensuring provision of basic amenities of life to the growing population.
As per the available data of the United Nations Development Program, Pakistan has 36.4 percent population in the urban areas — the highest urbanization rate in South Asia.
It is also estimated that after 2025, more than half of the population in Pakistan would be living in cities. However, this challenge could be addressed with indigenous solutions of sustainable policies, effective implementation and evaluation by ensuring transparency, social justice, participation, efficiency and accountability.
When contacted, official spokesperson of Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS), Attiq-ur-Rehman told APP that last census was conducted in March 2017 and the provisional results were also published.
However, he said, the detailed final results of the census would be published after the approval by the Council of Common Interests (CCI).
“The final report of Pakistan Demographic Survey that has captured the detailed statistics of births, deaths, migration within the country and from abroad would be published till July 2021”, he added.
Sophia Siddique, an Islamabad based journalist while talking to the agency said the cities have been expanded with massive population growth in almost all directions without appropriate planning. She said, “The government has to come up with a policy to facilitate people of the rural areas to curb the high ratio of urbanization.” People often come to cities to get some employment but after sometime they became settled permanently, she added.
Khalid Aziz, a Rawalpindi based construction contractor said, “The coronavirus has de-accelerated the trend of urbanization up to some extent due to work-from-home on internet and mobile phone.”
He said more than 27 percent of people in the United States have started working online in the wake of coronavirus pandemic.
Sooner digitization and technological transformation has to reduce rush on busy roads and pollution of fuel consumption in thickly populated cities, he added.
Hussan Nabi Siddique, a government employee termed that the city life as mechanical, adding that once anyone adapt urban lifestyle and get settled, it became hard to quit.
He said, “No doubt, employment opportunities attract people to urban centers but in reality the essence of life was in the rural areas, social life, natural beauty of rustic landscape and well-connected family life.”
Despite living in the city for years, people had to stay connected with their relatives back in their rural areas, he added.