National development: The way forward

Pakistan is near the top of the list of unfortunate economies that markets believe may soon follow Sri Lanka into debt default and economic crisis. We may be able to prevent a severe economic collapse. However, only if everything goes as planned.
According to recent data, the State Bank of Pakistan’s (SBP) foreign exchange reserves have decreased by another $245 million, reaching a critically low level of $5.58 billion. Additionally, SBP-held reserves have never been this low since April 2014. Food and energy imports are a major source of dependence. Its current-account balance has widened, and hard currency has been sucked away as commodities prices have risen.
During such economically tough times, we need to stick to one plan which is to work on self-sufficing projects that will not only generate revenue but also a number of job opportunities for the people which will result in the country’s economy.
Some of the national projects like the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the Karachi Coastal Comprehensive Development Zone (KCCDZ), the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), the Ravi Urban Development Authority (RUDA), Ranolia Hydropower Project and 27 others mainly in Balochistan and Punjab need our proximate attention.
Projects like these should not be ignored during these times, equally, the foundation of economic growth is sound infrastructure. Cities have the potential to be significant providers of innovation, labour, and goods when developed, managed and planned well. Also, uncontrolled growth challenges, such as unplanned and rapid urbanisation, unsustainable pressure on natural resources like forests and water, heavy reliance on energy derived from finite fossil fuels, and air and water pollution, all call for a global rethink.
Being a significant regional urban hub for business, finance, industry, and sociocultural significance, Punjab is quickly urbanising. Moreover, urbanization is happening through private sector development. In any case this is going to happen. Let’s not put a dog in that fight for over 10 million people are thought to live in Lahore alone. The Ravi Riverfront Urban Development on both banks of the river, along a 46 km long length that is adjacent to the northern and western boundaries of the Lahore district, was constructed to curb the issue of the city’s anticipated growth and water-related difficulties in the Ravi River. Along with decreasing water levels, the Ravi River downstream of Lahore has pollution issues. A 72-km-long stretch shows significant contamination of the water and sediment with different heavy metals as a result of the untreated disposal of municipal and industrial sewage. Untreated mixing of a sizable amount of wastewater into the Ravi River poses a serious threat to the ecology, especially the groundwater source. In the following days, the quality of groundwater, which is a potential source of drinking water for Lahore city, may be severely threatened by the increasing tendency of contaminants in the river to become increasingly dangerous.
To address the Lahore perennial problem of contaminated water pouring into River Ravi through 12 drains, the RUDA is working to set up wastewater treatment plants around the river. It will also drastically improve the marine ecosystem and reduce pollution with the establishment of water treatment plants.
Overall, for this purpose, revenue needs to be generated by putting the best use of resources. One should not disagree about the concept of the projects, rather may disagree about the execution of the concept and whether it is going to be as useful as it sounds or not. The state acquires land the whole time at a reasonable price to put it to some good use, something that is sustainable, eco-friendly and of complete public interest.
By creating economic corridors and having a substantial increase in economically viable projects, which can be a fertile environment for investments and opportunities including job creation, we shall then be able to curtail the damage caused. But much work needs to be done to encourage the economic stability and steady growth we, as citizens, need to realise this promise.

The writer is member of staff.