Riverfront Sapphire-Bay project to open fortune gateway for Pakistan

LAHORE, Jun 27 (APP): The modern cities around the globe have turned into magnets for talent and investment, and have become the world’s major growth engines, generating around 80 percent of the global gross domestic product (GDP).

The economic and social opportunities in these cities are helping hundreds of millions of marginalized segments to lift themselves out of extreme poverty.

However, on the other hand, the thickly populated cities, mostly developed without any planning, are facing tremendous challenges in the shape of worsening situation of pollution, widening income gaps among their populations, and deterioration of their infrastructure, especially buildings and bridges. And Pakistan’s big cities are no exception. Those are also facing all the above-mentioned issues, rather a little more.

However, the situation seems to change lately, as the country has got thinking and visionary leader Prime Minister Imran Khan. There are a lot of fields and sectors which are being looked into for the first time, and solutions are being searched for various gigantic problems facing the country for the last many decades.

Urbanization and consequent problems are among the issues which have been taken up at the highest level for the first time in the history of Pakistan.

Keeping in view the ever-increasing problems of megacity Lahore, Prime Minister Imran Khan announced developing a new city at the banks of River Ravi, namely the Urban Development project. Not a housing scheme, but a whole new modern city, under the Ravi Riverfront Urban Development Project, is the vision of the prime minister. Phase-I of the mega-development venture worth billions of dollars has been named Sapphire Bay.

The Ravi Urban Development Authority (RUDA) has been established to look after all aspects of the Ravi Riverfront Urban Development Project. The project is set to develop such a new city, which will be comparable with any modern city of the world. The project would help provide longevity to both old Lahore city and its residents, it is believed.

According to a World Bank report, around 50 percent of the global population today lives in urban areas, which would be increased by 1.5 times, to 6 billion by 2045. With well-managed sustainable growth of urbanization, innovations and increased productivity, more than 80 percent of global GDP can be generated in cities, it said.

Prime Minister Imran Khan also wants to include the new city, under the Ravi Riverfront project, in those modern cities that bring fortune for their dwellers as well as the countries at large.

Ravi Urban Development Authority (RUDA) Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Imran Amin told APP that mega-city administrators and planners must move quickly to plan for the tremendous and rapid growth while providing the basic infrastructure, social services and affordable housing to the residents of these expanding cities.

He said that in this project, locals of the area would be given preference in job opportunities, adding that education, health and other social facilities would be shaped in the new city according to the international standards. The CEO said that steps for the mega project were being taken while keeping in view the PM’s vision of not disturbing any landowner against his will.

In the first phase, a canal would be constructed which would flow into the barrage. Keeping in view environmental needs and considerations, a forest comprising over 800 acres would also be set up, he added. It is a multi-billion dollar project, being developed in the form of a new city on the banks of Ravi River, he added.

Providing further details, he said the project would be spanning over 25,000 hectares along with the Ravi, which envisions a modern city with 12 sectors of residential, financial, mixed-use commercial, medical, sports, knowledge, downtown, urban farming, tourism, 45-kilometer long clean water lake and green tree cover on 70 percent of the land, he added. It would be the longest watercourse in the world, and its first part with a 15-kilometer length would be completed by the start of 2023.

The RUDA chief executive officer said that the Sapphire Bay would consist of around 44,000 acres including 5,000-acres of river land. Of the remaining 39,000 acres, the government initially wanted to develop 2,000 acres of the riverfront project, the official told APP.

The project would also include three barrages and a lake, which would help recharge the groundwater for the city of Lahore. After the federal capital Islamabad, the Ravi city would be the second planned city of the country.

RUDA Executive Director (Commercial & Marketing) Kashif Qureshi told APP that under the RUDA Act 2020, the body would facilitate quality execution of the project, as per international standards. He said the project had been designed on the line of Singapore, envisaging the latest facilities over an area of 100,000 demarcated acres.

Mehmood Khalid Qamar, a noted environmentalist, told APP that the mega project was a welcoming sign and would give a new life to the city of Lahore. He regretted that the historic Lahore city had been suffering from climate changes, environmental, and some administrative challenges for over two decades.

Follow Baaghi TV to read all the latest and trending news!