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March 3, 2015
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Metro villages

Opinion

March 3, 2015

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The opponents of the metro bus have infinite reasons against the mega-billion commuter facility such as the apparently inflated costs and government’s lopsided preference for these projects over health, education and sanitation outlay. Ask the proponents of their obsession for metro bus and they would cite benefits such as mass public convenience, lessening of traffic congestion and above all bringing home the futuristic aspect of urban planning.
Mass transit projects like the metro bus are in fact more a normal feature of modern urban living rather than a futuristic distinction for a city. The first underground line of the New York City Subway was opened on October 27, 1904, the Tube in London opened in January 1863, MRT Singapore opened in 1987, BTS Sky Train in Bangkok was inaugurated on December 5 1999, the Mumbai Suburban Railway was founded in 1867, Mumbai Monorail’s first operational line was inaugurated on February 1, 2014 and Mumbai Metro started operating in June 2014 while in our plundered city of Karachi ruled by corruption and crimes, the KCR (Karachi Circular Railway) had started in 1969 and was shutdown in 1999 due to tendentious mismanagement rooted in corruption.
Lately the efforts by the Japanese to revive the KCR were successfully warded off by democracy’s ethnic and corrupt revenge from Karachi which instead gifted the pillaged city with a deluge of Qingqi rickshaws that are reported to be a reliable churner of extortions coming up to millions daily.
The fact is that more than the metro commuter systems the idea of metro villages –micro population units being energy self-sufficient through green energy with eco-friendly waste utilisation – would be a true symbol of the future. We should select villages of 2000-plus population in different districts and turn them into metro villages. Establishing a Green Energy Bank would be vital for the plan to help villagers acquire solar energy units and appliances.
The Green Energy

Bank would have a panel of solar energy companies and distributors for whose products it would provide 50 percent financing (returnable in monthly instalments) at zero percent interest rate to the villagers in the metro villages. The solar items would be provided to the villagers at standard retail price and the bank and manufacturers/distributors would split equally the retail profit margins. The bank could be established as an independent entity or formed as a green energy banking division in major commercial banks. Whatever the case may be, there should also be mobile green energy banking units to provide the service at the doorsteps of the villagers.
Gas and power producing biogas plants would also be an essential feature of the proposed metro villages. Smaller plants would be for residential purposes while bigger plants of 50 to 100 cubic metres would be for poultry and dairy farms and could be owned and run by biradaris (communities) and farmer groups since they cost around half a million rupees and above. The Green Energy Bank could facilitate the farmers for biogas plants too.
Lack of sanitation facilities in villages compels people to relieve themselves in the fields. That’s a problematic situation especially for womenfolk. Poorly-managed sewage pits are also used. Waste energy plants running on human waste could also be established in metro villages with community toilets that would facilitate people and provide continuous supply of human waste to the plants. The biogas produced from these plants could be used for agricultural purposes and power production.
The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government plans to supply solar power to 5,800 off-grid households in 200 villages. The government will pay 90 percent of the cost of the solar equipment with the rest shared by households. Families will receive a 200-watt solar panel, two batteries and other accessories to run a ceiling fan, a pedestal fan, three LED lights and two mobile phone charging slots. The KP government should also consider launching metro villages as this scheme could be carried out through practical financial arrangements between villagers/farmers and banks and green energy companies without major spending coming from the provincial exchequer.
The Punjab government could also launch the metro-villages scheme. Villages where more than 50 percent of the households/farmers agree to take part in the scheme should be selected. Eventually more and more villages would join the scheme.
In Pakistan pesticides are excessively used in agriculture – increasing pest resistance, affecting human health and harming the environment. We could have advanced versions of metro villages which besides being green energy self-sufficient with productive waste management would also replace pesticides with IPM (Integrated Pest Management) and excessive crop watering with drip irrigation systems.
Rather than almost always learning from the world we could turn our villages into metro villages for the world to learn from us for a change.
Email: [email protected]

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