Lahore’s Urban Dilemma

Providing low-cost and affordable housing options for lower income groups in the country is one of the promises that were made by Prime Minister Imran Khan and his party during their election campaign. Implementation plans for this have been set in motion with the establishment of Naya Pakistan Housing Scheme. For a city like Lahore, Prime Minister’s vision is to provide 0.5 million housing units in the next three years with particular emphasis on high-rise development such as flats and apartment buildings. This construction activity is aimed at not only providing housing options but also in the meanwhile generating jobs, encouraging investment and leading to growth of the economy. More recently, the Prime Minister’s coronavirus response package for the construction industry announced by the government is likely to incentivize investment in the industry. Having said that, tax break, amnesties and subsidies are one only side of the situation, because the current rules & regulations for building are too complex & contradictory and are a significant disincentive to investment in the construction industry. In a city like Lahore, the glut of regulations is compounded by the fact that an agency like Lahore Development Authority (LDA) only controls 20% of the city, with numerous other agencies like TMA, LMC, PHATA & DHA having their own independent regulations and approval procedures. Moreover, the different agencies are often seen pitted against each other in a play of regulatory competition.