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RDA vows to make Rawalpindi a Sustainable City

Sultan Kiani

The SN team interviewed CDA Chairman who shared development plans to change Rawalpindi into a sustainable city.

Pakistan’s most beautiful urban center Islamabad is also famous for its green landscape and iconic Margalla Hills. The federal capital however is incomplete without Rawalpindi, its ‘twin-sister’ city. Unlike Islamabad, Rawalpindi has been neglected for ages and has now turned into a concrete jungle. Environmental Pollution, shrinking greenbelts, encroachments, and traffic jams have become regular problems in the biggest city of Northern Punjab.

Chairman RDA Raja Tariq Mehmood Murtaza, in a recent interview with Subh-e-Nau, revealed some game-changing development programs on the cards. If everything goes as planned, these projects are going to transform Rawalpindi!

Subh-e-Nau: Please tell us about RDA’s environmental projects and also highlight your accomplishments

Chairman RDA: Miyawaki Urban Forest and Rainwater Harvesting scheme for local mosques are the most successful eco-friendly projects launched by Rawalpindi Development Authority (RDA). Miyawaki forest is developed in the heart of the city where over 8,500 indigenous trees of around 50 different species have been planted. Some of those plants have now grown into giant trees. The other one is installing rainwater harvesting system for mosques in Rawalpindi city. The program was executed in collaboration with UNDP. We chose 5 big mosques in the first pilot phase of this green project aiming to conserve water. We redirected the mosques’ rooftop downspout into underground tanks to harvest rainwater to be utilized for performing ablution by worshippers. Not only this but we also designed the whole system in a way that drained water from the ablution facility could then be used to irrigate the mosque’s garden saving a considerable amount of precious fresh water every day!

Why we specifically chose mosques because these are not just for praying but also serve as community centers. By introducing this concept in these public places, we helped people learn and adopt this green technology in their homes.

Subh-e-Nau: Have you made any legislation in building bylaws aiming to protect the environment?

Chairman RDA: Yes, we already have introduced a new law in our board meeting held in February 2021 where we made it mandatory for all the residential, commercial, and industrial buildings to include a rainwater harvesting system in their floor plan. RDA will not issue any N.O.C. to applicants lacking this component in their building. Apart from this, RDA also has helped residents of 500 houses in setting up small-scale kitchen gardens. We have provided technical training to hundreds of gardeners and local women to grow fresh organic vegetables at home demonstrating the importance of gardening.

Subh-e-Nau: Is there any urban mass transit project on the cards?

Chairman RDA: Well, we are planning to introduce electric buses in Rawalpindi aiming to reduce air and noise pollution while providing citizens a comfortable and affordable commuting option. We are going to start its pilot phase from the old city after revamping Raja Bazar. A 'Park & Ride' ride facility is also included in part of the plan so that people would be able to park their cars and take a ride in modern electric buses to the city center. Once executed, this eco-friendly project would hopefully reduce air pollution as well as traffic congestion from Rawalpindi city.

Subh-e-Nau: What are some of the upcoming mega projects for Rawalpindi?

Chairman RDA: We are launching several game-changing projects in a couple of months which would eventually transform Pindi into a model sustainable city! First, work on the long-awaited Ring Road Rawalpindi worth 30 billion is expected to begin by end of April 2022. This road would reroute heavy vehicles away from busy urban roads resulting in better traffic flow, and lower air and noise pollution. Ammar Chowk underpass has already been opened for the public, and we are all set to start work on Kacheri Chowk. Finally, the real game-changer 100 billion project for Rawalpindi is Nullah Lai Expressway. This is not just a road, but wastewater treatment also is part of this mega project. Sewage effluent would be treated at a proposed wastewater treatment plant near Gorakhpur, allowing only treated water into Soan River. We are determined to restore Nullah Lai to a storm canal to eliminate public health hazards and enhance the city's aesthetic beauty.

With these great plans shared by the CDA Chairman, SN will keep following the progress of their implementation and update our readers on a regular basis.

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