Monday February 06, 2023

Punjab taking steps for trageted industrial growth

February 08, 2017

LAHORE: Concerned over slow industrialization around Lahore despite having the best infrastructure in the country, the Punjab government wasted no time in finding out and getting rid of bureaucratic hurdles. In addition, it also allocated 65,000 acres of land for industrial development. That’s a growth-oriented move.

Growth around the world is tied to the local bureaucracy’s vision-driven prudence. Industrialization, particularly, is triggered by cumulative facilitation by the local, provincial and federal governments. A bad decision by any one of the decision-makers is enough to discourage the prospective investors. Globally, more than 70 percent of the wealth is generated in cities with top class road, rail, and telecommunication connectivity. 

The infrastructure in and around Lahore has been being constantly upgraded for the last eight years. Though, more industries were established around the city during this period then the rest of Pakistan, still it was much lower than the industrialization in cities around the world with comparable infrastructure. It was perhaps due to country’s poor image and also due to unjustified bureaucratic hurdles.

Lately, the chief minister of Punjab summoned the high-ups of Lahore Development Authority (LDA), President Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), and top bureaucrats from the provincial ministry of industries to unchoke the bottlenecks in the way of industrialization. The meeting discovered that it is the LDA, which is pouring cold water on investors’ confidence after having its jurisdiction extended to far-flung areas in the outskirts Lahore. These areas became easily accessible after Lahore Ring Road seamlessly connected the industrial and residential estates to city centers. A number of manufacturing units were built here about three to five decades back. However, the LDA’s humongous commercialization fees weighed much too heavy on the industrialists morale.

These industrialists were the prospective investors for new units. Instead of promoting it the LDA demoted industrial development by creating an atmosphere of distrust. The businessmen were justified taking it as an attack on their profitability as well as plans of growth. These industries were established decades back in unpeopled areas with the approval of industries department. They have been paying taxes for decades and all of a sudden the LDA declared these areas residential.

Baffled businessmen mounted their protest through media and Lahore Chamber. CM Punjab took no time in resolving the matter at the same meeting. The industries were allowed to operate but advised to address health and environmental concerns, if any, within three years.

The industrialists said that they would preferentially like to set up industries in the suburbs of Lahore because of infrastructural facilitates and easy transport of workers through Metro, Ring Road, and under construction Orange Railway line. The businessmen also requested the government of Punjab to declare land lying vacant around the already established industries as industrial zone. They pointed out that industrialization around border areas would be risky as it would be across River Ravi, which floods frequently during heavy rains. The expansion was possible at Raiwind-Chunian-Sundar area on one side and along Shiekhupura Road on the other.

Out of 100,000 acres of land identified by the LCCI in these areas, the CM approved 65,000 acres for industrial development for the time being.

This expanse of land is over ten times the area occupied by existing industries in and around Lahore. However, developing this huge area through public funds would not be possible. That’s where Punjab Industrial Estates Development and Management Company, which has so far built around eight estates, will come in handy. The company to its credit also has Sundar Industrial Estate project that it got off the ground with the help of seed money from Punjab government. After the development of infrastructure, the industrial plots were sold to intending industrialists generating enough money to launch Multan I and then Multan II. The funds raised from these two projects were invested to launch Rahim Yar Khan, Layyah and Bhalwal Industrial estates. The company is also expediting work on Quaid-e-Azam Apparel Pak at Shiekhupura. It has still got enough reserves to acquire and develop a few new industrial zones.

Experts say it would take at least a decade to develop the entire 65,0000 acres of industrial land but enough zones would be developed to fulfill the immediate needs of the entrepreneurs. If the entire allocated area is developed Lahore would become the largest industrial city of the country.