Volume 6, No. 2, February 2024
Editor: Rashed Rahman
The case presented below is the city of Lahore and the data is from the Master Plan for Lahore Division (MPLD) 2050, which is currently a work in progress. Among the outstanding features of MPLD 2050 are first, that it places citizens’ participatory planning at the core of the process; second, it places prosperity, based on an equitable and balanced economy rather than growth, as the goal of the plan, and third, it introduces a dynamic process of monitoring, review and updating.
The process was initiated in November 2018 by the Commissioner Lahore Division, Mujtaba Piracha, who invited a cross-section of concerned citizens and relevant departments to meet with the Lahore Development Authority (LDA) to identify key issues and propose strategies for addressing these issues through a citizens’ participatory planning process. This was followed by the Commissioner’s note on “redefining the mandate of LDA in the light of new and emerging realities…” and in May 2019, Vice Chairman LDA S M Imran invited a wide cross-section of Lahore’s citizens to discuss and advise the LDA as to their ‘Vision’ for Lahore.
From its initial deliberations, the citizens’ consultation led to recognising that the pursuit of the modernist development paradigm – of endless economic growth based on industrialisation – has resulted in unsustainable urbanisation, extreme poverty, income inequalities, social disintegration, economic collapse and an ecological crisis of unprecedented proportions. Consequently, the ad-hoc group replaced the slogan of cities as ‘engines of economic growth’ by a vision of Lahore as a ‘centre of urbanity and civilization’, serving its host region in a symbiotic, not extractive or parasitic relationship.
In May 2019, Vice Chairman Imran formed a Supervisory Committee to write the Terms of Reference (ToRs) for the Lahore Plan 2040 (later changed to Lahore Plan 2050), which would realise the ‘Vision’ formulated by the earlier ad-hoc group.
Identifying lack of ‘ownership’ as the basic cause of failure of all previous plans for Lahore, the committee called for Inclusive/Participatory Planning, and required that “for the formulation of a master plan for Lahore by Lahoris, the language should be local. For a national audience the language should be Urdu, and for the global audience the language may be English.”
Departing from conventional approaches, and indeed its mandate, the committee decided to replace the Master Plan for Lahore with a Regional Plan for the Division and master plans for all the 49 major urban settlements within the region.
The basic principles, policies and strategies adopted in the ToRs were largely derived from the Draft National Urban Policy, which had been formulated after a year-long deliberations initiated
 See Annexure 1.
 Note on “Redefining The Mandate of Lahore Development Authority (LDA)”, Office of the Commissioner Lahore Division, No. SRL/LDA/L/18 7927-A, dated December 15, 2018.
by the Climate Change Division and UN Habitat in Islamabad in 2013-2014. The result has been a document that addresses, head on, the relationship between ‘the City and the Poor’ and unequivocally connects both with the ecological and economic crises of our times.
More importantly, this exercise may prove to be a valuable precedent for other cities and the poor in our common struggle against what is undeniably an unprecedented existential crisis of global proportions. Relevant extracts from the ToR document are given below.
“We are caught amid two interconnected existential crises: climate change, global warming, extinction of species, social crime, income inequality at the global level, and the collapse of our ecological, sociological and economic systems at the national level. Both of these crises, which threaten the very existence of our humanity and all life as we know it on our planet, have been brought about by the pursuit of economic growth as a means to prosperity. Serious economists are now asking if continued prosperity is possible without economic growth. The engines of economic growth are indeed the cities – but they are also the biggest consumers of the world’s resources, and the biggest contributors to pollution, waste and environmental degradation. Seventy-five percent of the global economic production takes place in urban areas. Cities are responsible for the major share of the total global energy consumption and more than 70 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, and these trends significantly intensify the severity of two great challenges of our time: climate change and energy security.
One of the most comprehensive tools for analysing the environmental impact of economic activity is the Ecological Footprint, expressed in global hectares (gha), as the amount of land required by a person or community to sustain their use of natural resources. The assessment for Pakistan in 2007 showed that while the country’s Ecological Footprint of consumption, in terms of global hectares per person (0.77 gha), was small compared to the global average of 2.7 gha, it overshot the country’s biocapacity (0.43 gha) by nearly 80 percent. By 2012 Pakistan’s footprint for consumption had gone up to 0.79 and its biocapacity was down to 0.35, resulting in an overshoot of 126 percent. As expected, “the net deficit is made up by depleting its own ecosystem resource stocks, or by importing resources from elsewhere.” The result is continuous impoverishment, social disintegration, resource depletion and environment degradation.
The intention of the study is also to:
 Draft National Urban Policy, formulated in 2013-2014, for the Climate Change Division and UN-Habitat Pakistan.
 Request for Expression of Interest, Master Plan of Lahore Division 2050, June 2020, Lahore Development Authority (LDA).
 Tim Jackson: Prosperity without Growth – Economics for a Finite Planet (Earthscan, London, 2009).
 For 2012 footprint data see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_ecological_footprint
Previous Master Plans largely failed because the provisions of the plans were in conflict with the interests of powerful actors, including government and private developers, political leaders, business elites and the citizenry at large. Violations ranged from large development projects and changes in designated land-uses to minor encroachments and other unauthorised activities.
The take home lesson was that ‘ownership’ of the plans by a variety of interest groups, power centres, but most importantly the citizens themselves, is essential for the successful implementation of urban and regional plans. The obvious conclusion is that the planning ‘process’ must be inclusive and participatory. The intention is to generate/initiate a debate, a discourse, to educate both the planners and the beneficiaries or stakeholders for whom the plan is being prepared. Needless to say, this is a complex and difficult task that needs ‘thinking out of the box’. It will require many professional skills, including mass communication and media communicators, artists and designers, besides the usual team of planners, architects, engineers, economists and social planners, etc. But the first prerequisite for any inclusive process/debate/discourse has to be a common language of communication. For the formulation of a master plan for Lahore by Lahoris, the language should be local. For a national audience the language should be Urdu, and for the global audience the language may be English.
The study area will be Lahore Division including all existing urban and rural settlements within Lahore Division.
Prosperous Lahore – A Centre of Urbanity and Civilization
Lahore’s vision encapsulates and subsumes the principles of justice, tolerance, equity and respect that form the basis for prosperity and well-being. The goal and objectives of the study are formulated in line with core principles/values, mentioned as under.
Conservation of our humanity and our environment and the realisation of our highest human potential.
Our humanity is defined by the universal set of qualities and values that define what it means to be ‘human’ – qualities such as Love, Compassion, Justice and Beauty – not by quantities such as gross national product, monetary wealth and material possessions.
The quality of land, air and water should be compatible with the needs of healthy life:
i. Ecosystem management.
ii. Climate change adaptation.
iii. Conservation of environmental zones (AONBs, Biomes, Riparian Regions, etc.).
iv. Regional land use management.
v. Urban land use management.
vi. Disaster management.
vii. City aesthetic campaigns.
viii. Afforestation campaigns.
ix. Buffer zones and green belts.
x. Parks and horticulture development.
xi. Biodiversity protection.
xii. Energy conservation.
xiii. Green Technologies.
Extraction from resources should not exceed their rates of renewal and re-generation; carbon footprint should be reduced to zero; 100 percent recycling. The relationship between city and its host region should be symbiotic.
i. Symbiotic (mutualism) relationship between settlements and the ecosystem.
ii. Balanced and sustainable physical and social infrastructure development.
iii. Adoption and enforcement of all relevant Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
iv. Compact urban growth and management.
v. Proposing future urban growth directions through Cellular Automata Markov Model and Spectral Signature Analysis.
vi. Balanced urbanisation.
vii. Food security.
Conservation of embedded history, wisdom and values of justice, tolerance, equity and respect, which are the defining attributes of urbanity and civilisation, should form the basis for prosperity and well-being.
i. Protection and conservation of natural monuments, non-material monuments and artifacts.
ii. Revival of traditions, festivities and tourism support infrastructure.
iii. Protecting heritage and culture of all individual settlements.
iv. Folk centric planning.
While economic activities are the means to achieving the goals of prosperity, their impact on the environment should be within sustainable limits, based on need rather than greed, on the prosperity and well-being of the citizens and full employment opportunities for the working population.
i. Economic buoyancy of municipal, rural and district councils.
ii. Strong marketing systems.
iii. Strong and efficient transport and communication infrastructure (local, regional, national and international).
iv. Diversification of the economy into primary, secondary, tertiary, quaternary and quinary occupations.
v. Balancing of private and public sectors in the infrastructure development process.
vi. Increased productivity and effective supply chain management.
vii. Eco Tourism, religious tourism and sports tourism development.
viii. Industrial estates development and management.
ix. Developing an export based economy.
The principle of participatory planning and representative governance should guide the processes of data collection, analysis, diagnostics and formulation of proposals.
i. Empowerment through decentralisation mechanisms.
ii. Adoption of subsidiarity approach in the study region.
iii. Planning through social-ecological (neighbourhood) units rather than land use (space) zonation.
iv. Planning through informed decision making.
v. Poverty eradication.
vi. Cultivating altruistic values within Lahore Region.
vii. Participative planning through multi-level stakeholder involvement.
After due process the LDA commissioned the lead consultant in a joint venture with the local consultant for the preparation of the master plan.
The project started with a ‘kick-off’ meeting on March 10, 2021. The initial studies, surveys and data collection affirmed that the Socio-Economic Conditions of extreme poverty, income disparities, unemployment, unsustainable environmental degradation and the “overall decline in species diversity” as well as abundance in contrast to previous literature, in “one of the most rapidly urbanising cities in the world”, “[was] primarily due to habitat destruction, over-exploitation, pollution and human-wildlife conflict.”
While the task of preparing a master plan for Lahore Division is currently in progress, apart from the frequent meetings with the Review Committee, the consultants have, as of July 2022, held 116 meetings with a cross-section of interest groups, in different localities, conducted seven Public and Stakeholder Participation Workshops, collected feed-back from questionnaires, received and analysed Stakeholders Submissions and set up an Online Participation Platform that can be used in Urdu, Punjabi and English.
To their credit, the consultants have responded by making necessary changes and adjustments to their formulations and plans.
On its part, the LDA has invited comments, suggestions and proposals from the citizens through two full-page advertisements in the leading newspapers, giving summaries of the draft proposals formulated by the consultants at critical stages.
 Dar/Asian, Final inception Report, May 2021.
 Dar/Asian, Stage 2 Assessment Report, November 2021.
 Dar/Asian, Stage 4 Draft Master Plan for Lahore Division, July 2022.
 The platform can be accessed at https://mpld2050.commonplace.is/.
In response to the first Public Notice, Feb 22, 2022, which summarised the draft plan proposals for Lahore District, the following petition, endorsed by over 800 (now more than 4,000) signatories, was sent to the Director General on March 7, 2022:
A Prosperous Lahore: A centre of Urbanity and Civilisation.
The second LDA Public Notice, April 18, 2022 was an extensively revised version of proposals published in the first public notice, and reflects the extent to which the interactions with the citizens are actually playing a role in the formulation of the plan.
 https://lda.gop.pk › website › page Master Plan – Lahore Development Authority
 https://lda.gop.pk › website › page Master Plan – Lahore Development Authority
Note submitted by the author to the Commissioner Lahore Division, on November 19, 2018.
The following thoughts are submitted with reference to the meeting with LDA at the Commissioner’s Office on November 17, 2018.
Any plan for future action must begin by taking stock of where we are coming from, where we are at present and where we want to go.
For a collective, such as a city, the planning process should ensure the maximum participation of the citizens.
Such a process would involve a large number of people with diverse interests, capabilities and opinions, and would have to be carefully designed and structured.
Collection, analysis and synthesis of data would require expertise in specific fields. Transparency of the process ‘in operation’, and dissemination of findings and recommendations would involve the most effective mass communication methods and tools available.
A vital component of the ‘process’ should be a series of debates/workshops/seminars at which the findings and recommendations in specific fields are presented by the relevant experts for discussion and debate.
The process would require:
Such a participatory planning process would indeed be a radical departure from the conventional routines we have been following. But it is about time we recognise that those conventional methods have not delivered. We need to think outside the box. We need to explore alternative planning methodologies and paradigms. It will not be easy, but we owe it to our future generations to address the most critical issues of our time: urbanisation, environmental degradation, economic inequities and social disintegration.