Sunday, January 8, 2012

Population Explosion Turning Pakistan into a Slum

January 5, 2012

By Saeed Qureshi

Do Pakistan’s planners and economic managers ever realize that the fast growing population is the biggest threat to the sustained development of that country? The pace of development is out of sync with the unremitting growth of population that of late has reached a staggering mark of 187 million.

The birth rate outpaces the death rate with 31 births and 8 deaths per thousand. For every thousand individuals Pakistan has to feed 23 more mouths every year. Food already getting scarce, the utilities, housing, roads, jobs, health facilities, water, power, educational institutions have to be proportionately created for the burgeoning population.

The trend of urbanization is taking its toll on the living conditions and environment in the cities. The rural areas being grossly neglected for development of infrastructure and provision of basic facilities, the rural dwellers migrate to the towns and cities where they take up menial and small jobs for survival.

The earning members have to carry the burden of their family members some of whom may also join in the odd jobs they seek to pool the cost of living. The statistics tell us that 36 percent population lives in big cities while 50 per cent population resides in towns with roughly 5000 thousands population or over.

The migrants create shanty towns, or occupy inhabited or odd places to live with several members huddled in a small room made from unbaked bricks or mud. The Pakistan’s cities suffer from inadequacy of utility and social services such as gas, water, electricity, health, education and good public transportation system. The uninhibited trend is to build houses anywhere without approval of the local government or municipalities.

One can witness the ugly and haphazard growth of ramshackle shanty towns or even modesty good houses coming up around the main cities such as Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad. Karachi presents the worst scenario as far grabbing of land and expansion of small settlements and colonies around the cities are concerned. These makeshift colonies are cordoning the cities with filth and dirt and sewerage flowing in the unpaved lanes with swarming worms and flies.

In the absence of a proper and pre-planned town planning, the houses constructed haphazardly, do not have a wider access to move and thus small, narrow lanes and uneven dirt paths are used as approach connections to the houses. Now wherever one builds house of free will and without as we call zoning rules, the access road and provision of electricity and running tap water and gas connections take years before these are piecemeal provided.

It would be interesting to note that in 1951 when both East and West Pakistan were together, Pakistan’s population was around 30 million which at present stands at 180 million alone in West wing now Pakistan. While population has mushroomed exponentially, the resources to cater for the needs of the growing population have not been correspondingly created.

Pakistan is replete with huge natural resources one of which are huge coal deposits But woefully these were not utilized by mining and thus there is acute scarcity of fuel and gas and electricity that could be produced by using coal.

The construction of dams both for irrigation and power generations were always kept on back burners for a variety of untenable reasons. The Kalabagh dam that should have been now functioning for decades was left in lurch due to provincial bickering and thus no government could pick up the courage to complete this very vital project.
We have mayhem situation in Pakistan.

There is an unremitting and unprecedented chaos all over. The industrial sector is being shut down; the people are using firewood to cook food and to warm their houses. We are moving back towards the primitive ages. The agricultural crops are not enough to feed the people. The entire system of governance and provision of essential utilities on sustained bases has been in doldrums.

With the fast growing population which is the easiest pastime for a jobless person, the country has passed into the phase of horrendous backwardness. See our roads, our buses and markets places full of encroachments with animals stalking the roads. Can one believe this is a state that came into being only six decades ago and looks like a medieval land?

The unchecked growth of population is a sure recipe for unemployment, lawlessness, poverty, breaking down of institutions, corruption, environmental degradation, poor quality of life, the spread of diseases, and the loss of hope for a better future among the public. When resources are scarce and demand gets higher and higher by the day, the people would resort to crimes, stealing, and robbing, killing and even prostitution.

The edicts of the religious clergy that population control was a sin should be ignored as these demagogues have no alternatives to give food to the entire population nor have any plan to provide basic needs, utilities and services to the teeming millions.

It is critically important that emergent measures should be taken to cap the wild and unrestrained proliferation of the population in Pakistan. Otherwise beside the poverty graph going up, there can be riots all over country which are already sporadically taking place in Pakistan.

It is up to the authorities and the respective governments in Pakistan as to how they bridle and control the population explosion for better life of the citizens. There are many research documents and studies that are internationally available and also in Pakistan which if implemented earnestly and with full force of law, the population can be restrained.

Thus there will be less new humans to be taken care in several ways from housing to medical care and jobs and provision of basic needs both in terms of social services and public utilities. That situation would take off an enormous load on the government exchequer as well as lessen the burgeoning socio-economic problems.

It is foregone that the people with less socio-economic hazards and minimum public service irritants can be more productive than those reeling under abject and degrading living conditions.

1 comment:

  1. seriously, this is the most sane article regarding Pakistan, I have ever read.