Pakistan's Ravi River Urban Development Project (RRUDP) is envisioned by the current ruling government, Pakistan Tekreef-i-Insaf, as an innovative and efficient solution to the country's exponentially growing population in Lahore — one of its major urban centers. However, the project has been met with criticism from environmentalists and activists and has been part of a legal tussle between the provincial Punjab Judiciary and the country's apex judiciary, the Supreme Court.

The Ravi River is a 720-kilometer (447-mile) transboundary river crossing northwestern India and eastern Pakistan.

The RRUDP is envisioned as a 41,308-hectare (102,074-acre) planned city, which would make it Pakistan's second planned city after the country's capital, Islamabad. The project boasts rehabilitating the Ravi River into a perennial freshwater body and is expected to be the world's largest riverfront when finished.

The provincial judiciary and Supreme Court have been at odds when it comes to judgments regarding RRUDP.

On January 25, the Lahore High Court (LHC) scrapped the RRUDP, declaring several provisions of the Ravi Urban Development Authority (RUDA) Act 2020 unconstitutional.

In an uncharacteristically quick-fire response, just six days later, the Supreme Court suspended the LHC's initial order to halt the RRUDP until RUDA rectified and amended their legal lacunas. The RRUDP has, in effect, been given the green light for implementation, which has garnered criticism from environmentalists, human rights activists, and the farming community that reside along the Ravi River.

In 2021, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) launched a fact-finding report on RRUDP and one of the primary concerns was the impact the project may have on Punjab's ecology, food security, and farmers' livelihoods.

According to the report, almost 77% of the site area is agricultural land while the remainder comprises a delicate ecosystem of community and flora. The HRCP fears that the agricultural land of over 76,000 acres could be affected under the 30-year project.

The HRCP'S chairperson, Hina Jilani, told DW: "Such so-called development projects are favoring concrete over agricultural land, which is problematic as the land around Ravi is supplying much of Lahore's fruits and vegetables and especially the farmers themselves, who live and feed off this land, this project is impinging on their social and economic rights."

Another criticism hurled at the RRUDP is that the feasibility study is not robust, as per the LHC's ruling. In 2014, the Lahore Development Authority hired Singapore-based urban development firm Meinhardt Group to run a feasibility study. This study also formed a significant part of the Environmental Protection Authority's Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA).

However, eyebrows have been raised regarding the efficacy of the study as the Meindhart Group was allegedly blacklisted by the Lahore Development Authority (LDA) in early 2022. The group has publicly denied this and is pursuing arbitration/defamation cases against the LDA.

Also, Amin, now CEO of RUDA, served as director of operations at Meinhardt Pakistan from 2012-2020, which petitions against RRUDP, and this has been deemed as a "conflict of interest."