Green Line Bus Service Project in Karachi-Citizen’s Hopes

Karachi is a metropolitan city, which is passing through an uncontrolled phase of urbanization and motorization because all the quality services of health and education as well as entertainment are accumulated in Karachi as compare to the rest of the Sindh province. Besides, it’s an economic hub due to the Arabian sea and other infrastructure facilities like air port , industrial zones etc. It also appears the attractive place for migrants from all over the world due to the requirement of cheap labor for the industrial zone and other economic activities.

These externalities have developed a big pressure over the very poor public transportation system of the city, run by private companies. The insufficient number of buses enhances the problem when the poorly maintained buses are driven by the untrained unprofessional drivers. They drive the buses speedy in rush hours, produce hustle bustle environment around in peak hours and in hot weathers and pollute the environment with noise and smoke. The drivers and the conductors of these public buses also harass their female passengers doing awful acts, which is the main reason of increase in wearing abayas and scarves even in hot summer and very congested conditions within the buses. Furthermore, due to such conditions, people prefer to ride their motor bikes and cars, which results in traffic congestion.

According to JICA Person Trip Study, 2005, “The city’s present public transport system constitutes a small percentage of total vehicle fleet (4.5 percent) and serves about 42 percent of passenger demand.”

The Karachi Metrobus is a 109 km (67.7 mi) bus rapid transit planned for Karachi, on behalf of the Federal Government of Pakistan. The expected daily ridership would be 350,000 and the project will be started by February 2017.

The Karachi Strategic Development Plan (KSDP) 2020 described 16 objectives for transport sector, among which following are linked with this project:

  • Provide safe and efficient mobility for people and goods, Improve public mass transportation system, targeting affordability and convenience,
  • Strengthen existing transportation infrastructure and services by considering various alternatives,
  • Evolving a comprehensive transportation plan development and modeling to address vehicular traffic, public mass transportation (bus line and rails based), parking to provide for development of roadway and public transport/mass transit infrastructure development priorities for long range,  and
  • Develop transport infrastructure to support planned land use changes, especially strengthening links between Central Business District (CBD) and polycentric commercial center nodes.

Thus the main benefit of this project to the citizens will be the  alleviation of the severe traffic congestion problems which are integrated with noise and air pollution. This will improve the quality of life of the daily commuters by reducing the travel time on one hand and addresthe monopoly of the transport mafia on the other.

Most of the mega infra structure projects in Pakistan tends to failure from one aspect or the other due to several reasons including the realistic approaches towards the sustainability of the projects and the political will and the vested interests of higher authorities. Hopefully this Green Line Bus Project, unlike Islamabad Metro Bus project will avoid using unnecessary expenditure of tax payers’ money on erecting the separate mega infrastructure in shape of mega stations and the separate road network and over bridges or under passes. It can be well managed by the existing sufficient road network by just allocating the proper stops to them and manage it well by develop a mobile phone app for the city that gathers real-time data on the quickest and easiest routes to increase the use of public transportation. The route maps can be installed on the bus stations as well. To run the project, the reasonable fare will be charged to the passengers to sustain the facility and avoid the unnecessary subsidy as is given in case of Islamabad Metro Bus Service.





Sustainable Citie’s Development Goal & the Situation of Pakistan


According to UN Habitat- the United Nations agency responsible for sustainable human settlements- the 21st century is the Urban Century because over 50 percent of the global population out of 7 billion is now living in urban areas and the rest are tend towards the urban centers. In 2014, Climate Summit, Heads of 100 states including Pakistan unites before the UN General Assembly talk about the Climate Change. After giant Climate March in New York, 17 SDGs were adopted out of which goal 11 was about the cities and human settlements to make them inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.

Cities are playing a major role in global consumption, production GHG emission, waste and poverty. Cities are contributing 50 to 70 percent GHG emissions from different sectors. We are almost half way to the “critical decade”, when our planning and actions will decide about our success and the failures which could be at the cost of the coming generations.

We are about 7 billion people on the planet Earth and we are unable to supply all 7 billion with the electricity alone. About 2 billion people do not have access to the electricity at the moment. Urbanization has its own challenges but of course it has the opportunities at the same time. Such opportunities may be in the form of social innovations or in the technical innovations.

When we are talking about Sustainable Urban Transformation, it means we are considering cities as the potential source of knowledge transformation, taking the stake holders on one platform to talk about sustainability and innovations and can make the dreams into reality.  Thus there are three main areas lies under Sustainable Urban Development i.e, Innovation and Business, Planning and Governance and, Lifestyle and attitude/ behavior.

Pakistan remained at tenth position regarding the long run Climate Risk Index during last one and the half decade (Global Climate Risk Index 2015 published by German Watch). On the other hand the country ranks at third position regarding climate change vulnerability index. Thus, a big challenge is ahead!

All the above three areas of Sustainable Urban Development are inter linked and compliment and supplement each other.

Sustainable means the use of resources without exploiting the future generation needs. Thus, sustainable cities mean the cities which provide people high living standards without using more natural resources or involve high cost of natural resources. Sustainable cities means the places where people want to live in an efficient manner, with quality of life and with positive attitudes and considerations. There are several examples existing in the world for such cities. We have to learn how we can use energy more efficiently and more intelligently both at work and at homes. Innovation and Green Business is the call of this high time. We can save energy everywhere, from industries to the homes, from wash rooms to the big industrial plants. We can turn our cities into heaven if we do not let our industries throw their waste into our rivers or throw our towns without treatment, as we observed from Ansari Sugar Mill on way to Badin , which has turned the area into the most foul smelly area. The mill owners though are paying a chunk amount into charity and the Zakat every year which may be their priority or social obligation or a way to satisfy them at the cost of the lives of people surrounded and hence the ecology.

When we study the cities phenomenon all around the world, we came to know that cities are giving standard living to the people and in return the people are so considerate and positive so that they are giving back to their cities to grow them more efficient economically and environmentally. Amsterdam is a very good example in this regard. In 1970s, they decided to take out the solution of the traffic congestion and they promote cycling. People of Amsterdam have adopted it in a very innovative way. Now the local governments of several Scandinavian cities and the cities of Europe are promoting the same by giving easy access to the cycles so that they can reach the destination easier and earlier than the cars. The cycles are promoting health on one hand and don’t use any fossil fuel on the other. Similarly, promoting walking also needs to be followed by some people – friendly policies and traffic rules like the facilitation during the road crossings, the allocated pedestrian path ways etc.  The  issue of traffic congestion can also be resolved by giving easy access to the public and efficient transport by developing a people friendly infra structure of buses, bullet trains , trams and other efficient and cheaper means of transport which consume less fuel per mile as per passenger so that everyone can access it equally and efficiently, without any loss to the national economy. For example, in Islamabad if we do the cost benefit analysis of the Metro Bus service, then I am pretty sure that it is going in the deficit. The unnecessary mega infrastructure development and the subsidy given to the consumers are the steps needs to be revisited. This is simply unethical and uneconomical to use the tax payers’ money in such mega projects for few people. The promotion of such interventions also involve a political will because it is also the matter of how that society is taking the things and reacting about the specific culture and the phenomenon. In developing countries like Pakistan, to have a car is a status symbol. But like Amsterdam, if their president rides a cycle then the citizens feel proud to do the same. There is also need to work on behavioral change of drivers, which are mostly illiterate and are not educated for this specific issue, which are also a factor in increasing the noise pollution and smoke in the environment.

Similarly another issue is the use of energy in the buildings in urban centers is huge. In hot weather, everyone is looking for mega shopping and entertainment malls like in big city centers. In such scenario, the poor house hold level power supply gets short and the citizens suffer from shortage of electricity. Countries like Pakistan which is self sufficient in Sun light and in several parts with wind energy, if use innovative local technology to use it in a better way than the energy crises can be addressed.  Secondly, in hot countries, we need to revisit our architecture. In modern architecture, our architect has followed the western style blindly which is not environment friendly in our case. Our environment is totally different from the environment of Europe or cold countries. We have to follow the old Hindu style architect prevailing in many parts of the country, having high roofs, big ventilators, big doors and windows, some special kind of air ventilators in the roofs called badigars , so on and so, which promote passive housing. Furthermore, we can have options of Green Walls, Green Roofs and Green Buildings , low content of water and the renewable energy. This approach is called Virtual City Experimentation i.e., a design approach to catalyse action in the context of rapidly emerging disruptive challenges to the fabric and life of cities. We cannot follow any one blindly but we should adopt the things wisely. We have quit our several environment friendly practices and adopt blindly the Western practices like the use of foam in the furniture and quit the traditional charpai, which is more environment friendly in our case. Giving preference of foam chairs on fine knitted wooden chairs have introduced several diseases in such hot weather.

This is also the matter of attitude and behavior of using spaces in an efficient manner to make them greener inside and outside the homes. Rain water harvesting is also another superb idea. Urban agriculture is a fantastic idea but needs to be promoted and facilitated by the local government . Kitchen Gardening is very cheaper and fun activity which can give great results.

Solid waste management is another big problem of our cities. If we talk about Islamabad, which is considered as the most organized and planned cities of Pakistan, have also ample examples of failure in solid waste management. SWM also involves the sensitization and training of the citizens that how they can keep the paper, cans and other household waste separate, even our educated people really need this training. Though this is another question that if our people start doing segregation of the trash, whether our local government or CDA is enough capacitated to reuse it??  People are least bothered about the cleanliness of their streets, even of the space in front of their doors, though they and their children use it for playing and sitting in the evening. We are least bothered to put the trash into the waste bins at public places and never train our children to do so. Our kids also feel good to throw the trash out of the glass window of the car, following the parents and most of the elders. On the other hand, most of the public places lack the proper and required number and size of the installation of waste bins and their maintenance. We have a big force of energetic youth and they love to volunteer themselves in the positive image building of the nation and the community service. This big force can be utilized to make the country green and sustainable. Time to time, we have observed some college and university groups celebrate World Earth day, environment days or world water days by collecting the trash which people throw into the sea at our sea side in Karachi. By doing so the youth wants to deliver the message that still they are hopefull that we will be changed, secondly they want to urge you to get change now. They want to say that “It’s enough now! Please stop and don’t make our sea and our earth dirtier!” They are the real change agents!

Our research institutes like PARC/ NARC has done several successful experiments for sewerage treatment, waster water efficient management and biogas. There is need to reinvestigate that why the Biogas is failure when we apply in the field and what are the user friendly modes of all the above technologies, which can be adopted by people and industries quickly and effectively.

Urban infrastructure (which includes streets, sewers, roads, telecommunication, buildings, parks etc) can advance sustainability and green economies or other way round as well. If we take the example of Karachi, the poor designing or under passes fails to drain when it rains or the low quality material use in over head bridges fall over any time like Man-o-Salwa from the sky, which doesn’t provide the food but eat the lives of several poor people.

When we are talking about the Government, we should consider the four governing modes, which put the impact. Firstly, Self Governing means how municipalities govern its activities; Secondly, Governing by Enabling means that how municipality or local government is bringing the stakeholders together; Thirdly Governing by Provision means it has sufficient hard as well as soft infra structure and finally Governing by Authority means if they are not given powers then they wouldn’t be able to give the results and then all the resources and policies go into vein.

Talking more about Governing by Provision, although it is encouraging on federal level that Government of Pakistan ( GOP) is spending more than 6% of the budget on climate related indicators.[1]But thrust is still there when we look into the matter minutely at the provincial levels, which shows the considerable need in increase of the budgetary allocations at the provincial level. When we are analyzing the Annual Development Budget, we can observe that out of net annual development programme[2] (305,000 million), 9000 millions were spent on QA Solar Bahawalpur in FY 2014-15 and 11000 millions are decided to spend on saafpaniprogramme in FY 2015-16 (out of 333,000 millions of Net annual development programme) which is not substantial.

As far as the policies are concerned, the important aspect is to keep the policies ambitious but realistic politically and economically. We need quick policies on one hand and the adoptable or flexible on the other so address the day to day changes in the urban conditions. Most of the policies and laws still exercising in Pakistan in several very important sectors like revenue and irrigation are of British era.

There is need to combine Energy Planning and Urban Planning. Local Governments have played a decisive role in changing such conditions all over the world. Besides, civil society actors, media and the private sector can also make the difference by putting their due share in this regard. Smart Sharing is another innovative idea by the citizens, for the citizens and from the citizens. They can use sharing the knowledge with other people that how they are taking steps to make their cities greener and sustainable thorough mobile phones, internet and other communication means. We can develop fossil fuel free cities models for Karachi , Lahore and all other big cities. This is the time when we can start to take our cities as Urban Living Labs and try to convert them into Greener, Resilient, Safer and Sustainable, from household to the industry. But to responses the Climate Change as commitment in Climate Summit, Urbanization is not neutral. It is political. Some agendas may get priority over other and others may get marginalized. We find that several mainstream actors are involved including governments, civil society actors and international donors. Such priorities and matter of political will needs to be addressed through several ways because without a political will it is almost impossible in Pakistan.




[1] [1]


[2] “Annual Development Programme (ADP) is composed of public investments made in different sectors of the economy in a given year by the Government. These investments are not only instrumental in accelerating economic growth and development but also define and open up economic opportunities for the private sector and other stakeholders. ADP with its sectoral composition reflects the development priorities of the Government and thus, has a pivotal role in guiding the strategic direction of the provincial economy”

Climate change and water pattern


The economic life of Pakistan highly depends on the flow of the Indus River basin which supports large areas of irrigated agriculture and plays a significant role in generating hydel power for the country. The Indus River alone contributes more than half of the total surface flow and has a controlling storage at Tarbela Dam as the river comes down from the mountains.
Tarbela was primarily designed for irrigation control, but it also has an installed hydropower capacity of 3700 MW providing roughly 13 per cent of Pakistan’s annual power output. Inflow to Tarbela is measured at Besham, which has a mean annual flow of 2425 m3 /s (1969–2001), varying annually from 80 to 130 per cent from the mean flow. This represents considerable variation in the potential for irrigation and hydropower production.
The world’s freshwater resources are depleting day by day. Pakistan has also reached the critical limit of per capita water availability. Pakistan’s storage capacity has reduced to 30 days per year which is well below the standard value of storage capacity. In Pakistan, the tensions are increasing daily on water distribution and allocation among provinces in the country.
The Indus River and its tributaries, the Jhelum, Chenab, and Sutlej rivers originate from the Karakoram, Hindukush, Himalayan mountain ranges, and the Upper Indus Basin (UIB) extends from the Tibetan Plateau to northeast Afghanistan. These mountains provide the major component of water for the Indus Basin Irrigation System, one of the largest integrated irrigation networks. An understanding of the annual variability in volume and timing of flows is therefore vital for water stewardship in the region.
Assessment of the impacts of trends or periodic variation in flows of the Indus River basin is necessary to build understanding about the erratic flow of the Indus River and its tributaries. Pakistan is an agrarian country with a quarter to half of the population dependent on the agricultural economy. Proper water stewardship for irrigation and agriculture requires proper evaluation of available water.
More than 80 per cent of the flow in the Indus as it emerges into the plains of Punjab is derived from the melting of seasonal and permanent snowfields and glaciers. The emission of green house gases and the subsequent global warming represent a major threat to this precious source of freshwater. Increased negative human activity due to border tensions between the neighbouring countries of Pakistan and India is also emerging as an environmental threat for this source of freshwater in the region.
The upper Indus basin consists of a series of mountain ranges of extreme rugged terrain at high elevations. Pakistan’s Indus River basin system consists of five major rivers, namely the Indus, Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi, and Sutlej. These five rivers supply water to the entire Indus basin irrigation system. These rivers have their origin in the higher altitudes and derive their flows mainly from snowmelt and monsoon rains.
Catchment of Indus is most unique in the sense that it contains seven of the world’s highest peaks after Mount Everest. The climate varies from tropical to temperate. Arid conditions exist in the coastal south, characterised by a monsoon season with adequate rainfall and a dry season with lesser rainfall, while abundant rainfall is experienced by the province of Punjab, and there are wide variations between extremes of temperature at given locations.
Rainfall varies from as little as less than 10 inches a year to over 150 inches a year, in various parts of the country. Climatic change will impact different hydrological parameters, including precipitation snowmelt etc. These changes are results of severe hydrological changes in river flows.
Proper water stewardship and planning demands a deep understanding of these hydrological changes in the river flows. The spatial and temporal changes in the flows of the Indus basin tributaries impact the Indus basin irrigation system (IBIS).
A recent academic study assessed the spatial and temporal changes in hydro availability over different time spans of the year using hydrological statistical analysis of the historic data of different rim stations along the Indus basin. Changes in flow quantity are likely to raise tensions among the provinces, in particular for the downstream areas (Sindh province), with regard to reduced water flows in the dry season and higher flows with flooding during the rainy season.
Estimating water resource under changing flow regimes is important for planning and the operation of water related project. Hydrological parameters are changing under the influence of climate change, which is resulting in the changing pattern of flow regimes. There is large variation of flow at different location in the Indus basin irrigation system. In a recent research study data was analyzed using hydrological software of different rim stations of the Indus River system from 1961-2011.
The monthly mean, maximum, and minimum discharge were computed based on the daily maximum, daily minimum and daily mean discharge. Average daily discharge was based on the arithmetic average of daily maximum and minimum discharge. The seasons were divided into three month and six month intervals. The six month seasons are winter (October to March) and summer (April to September). The three-month seasons are classified as winter (December, January, and February), spring (March, April and May i.e pre-monsoon), summer (June, July and August i.e monsoon) and autumn (September, October and November, post-monsoon). The annual mean is the average of January to December monthly means. Trends were investigated for temporal analysis of six river gauging stations with one station on each river of Indus River system for the period 1961-2010. The analysis was also done for 25, 15 and 10 years time increment.
For the spatial analysis, 6 gauging stations were considered — two stations on each River Indus, Jhelum and Ravi. Trends and variation were investigated by applying the Mann-Kendall test and Sen’s method. The overall analysis indicates that there is more flow variation on a seasonal basis as compared to the annual basis.
It was concluded that the discharge from Sutlej and Ravi rivers has shown a decreasing trend during the annual mean, minimum and maximum discharge as well as during all six and three month seasons. The Sutlej River’s showed a more rapidly decreasing trend in discharge between 1961-1985, while the Ravi River showed a more rapidly decreasing trend in discharge between 1986-2011. The Kabul River showed decreasing trends in annual mean and maximum discharge whereas its annual mean, minimum discharge showed an increasing trend, probably due to the greater snow and glacier melt in the catchment area of the Kabul River.
It was concluded that the Chenab, Jhelum and Indus rivers’ annual mean, maximum and minimum discharge showed decreasing trends. The rate of decrease was higher during the 1986-2010 time span as compared to the 1961-1985 time span. Interestingly, during the winter seasons discharge is increasing whereas during summer season discharge is decreasing. It is again an indication that climate change is inducing more impacts in the upper Indus basin freshwater sources i.e in terms of snowpack and glaciers.
In spatial analyses of the Indus and Jhelum Rivers, summer season are showing decreasing discharge at higher elevation points, namely Kharmong and Chinari respectively, whereas the winter season is showing a greater increase in discharge at higher altitudes in the Indus River and greater decrease in discharge in the Jhelum River at higher altitudes for the time span 1986-2010.
During the spatial analysis of the Ravi River, it was concluded that summer seasons show less decreases in discharge at higher elevation points, namely Jassar, whereas winter seasons are showing increasing discharge at lower elevation point.
Period analysis during droughts and flooding suggests that every decade must experience one or two years as dry period as well as one or two years as wet period.

Wicked water problem

Water resources management has often been described as a ‘wicked problem’, defying easy solutions. It is wicked because there are unknown dimensions to the science of natural resource. In addition, there are multiple stakeholders to water resources management that renders decision-making difficult.
International trans-boundary river basin management presents an even more wicked problem because these rivers are shared by two or more sovereign states, causing decision-making to be all the more complex. Much of the water for human consumption comes from rivers, and there are 276 international trans-boundary river basins in the world (De Stefano et al. 2012). The 276 international trans-boundary river basins are shared by 148 sovereign states, and over 2.7 billion of the world’s population is reliant on these waters (De Stefano et al. 2012: 198).
Scientists have warned of the risk of conflict if threats to both the biodiversity of rivers and human livelihoods are not fully understood and addressed with appropriate means.
The conflict of same nature exists in our region between Pakistan and India. The roots of these conflicts are linked with the British period, when they started mega water projects especially on the Indus Basin. British established a world largest and contagious irrigation network on the Indus Basin. Indus basin comprises six major tributaries and many small tributaries.
After the Partition of 1947, Pakistan and India scuffled over water distribution form shared Indus basin. At the time of Partition, no one seriously thought about these shared challenges. These dispute emerged because there was a lack of internationally recognised water sharing formulae to solve these inter or intra national conflicts. Still the practice of international law to solve the dispute on water distribution between two or more than two countries from one common hydrological basin is not appreciated.
When Pakistan raised questions that India wanted to stop all the water and transform Pakistan into a desert, water experts from Tennessee Valley Authority visited Pakistan and India and gave their recommendations to World Bank as “India and Pakistan should work out a programme jointly to develop and jointly operate the Indus Basin river system, upon which both nations were dependent for irrigation water. With new dams and irrigation canals, the Indus and its tributaries could be made to yield the additional water each country needed for increased food production.”
After these recommendations, the World Bank intervened and started negotiations between Pakistan and India in 1951. After different phases of these negotiations, Indus Water Treaty was signed in 1960. The treaty gives India exclusive use of all of the eastern rivers and their tributaries before the point where they entered Pakistan geographic boundary. Similarly, Pakistan has exclusive use of all of western rivers water.
Before coming to this agreed proposal presented by the World Bank, Pakistan and India also offered their own proposals for the distribution of water in Indus basin. The India side offered that Pakistan uses 93 per cent of water from western rivers and none of the eastern rivers, whereas Pakistan offered India to use 30 per cent water from eastern rivers and none of the western rivers. But at the end, both the parties agreed to the World Bank proposal.
One of the technical flaws of this treaty is that both occupied Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan are not consulted on this treaty. Kashmiris are also major stakeholders in the Indus hydrological basin.
Other criticism is environmental consequences of the treaty. Today it is too much important that we study, understand and realise the environmental consequences of this treaty. When both the parties decided water distribution formula, no one thought about the fair share of nature and environment. That’s why they agreed upon the formula that three eastern rivers’ water rights are in Indian control and three western rivers’ rights in Pakistan control. No one thought about what will be going downstream of these three eastern rivers and ultimately how they affect the downstream of whole Indus basin. What will be the impacts on the biological life (flora, fauna) and the downstream end of the basin?
One thing is very clear, if we don’t give the nature its fair share, it takes revenge in the form of disasters like droughts and floods. Pakistan and India are bound through different united nation conventions on environment to protect the environment and ecosystem through sustainable development policy. I would like to discuss two international conventions in this regard: 1) Convention on biological diversity (CBD); 2) Convention on protection and use of trans-boundary water courses and international lakes.
The CBD reminds that natural resources are not infinite and sets out a philosophy of sustainable consumption of natural resources. Whereas convention on protection and use of trans-boundary watercourses and international lakes bound both parties that they shall take all appropriate measure to prevent, control and reduced any trans-boundary impacts. It also bound that both parties to take all appropriate measures to prevent, control, and reduce water pollution causing or likely to cause trans-boundary impact. It also emphasises to ensure conservation and where necessary, restoration of ecosystem. These international treaties give sound logical reason to both parties that they should review the Indus Water Treaty on the basis of these environmental considerations.
To check the environmental and ecological degradation it is compulsory that environmental impact assessment (EIA) studies must be carried out, especially for any future hydropower and water storage projects from credible international third party.