ADB approves $15m loan for urban development planning in Punjab

ISLAMABAD: The Asian Development Bank (ADB) will help the Punjab government to design comprehensive investment and public service delivery plans in preparation for upcoming urban development projects in seven districts of the province.

The $15 million loan for ‘Punjab Urban Development Projects’ announced by the ADB on Thursday will finance the preparation of comprehensive master plans for upstream project pipeline development, detailed engineering designs, operational business plans for priority investments, and support procurement readiness for the ensuing projects.

The project readiness financing loan will fund the preparation of spatial master plans for proposed projects in the cities of Bahawalpur, Dera Ghazi Khan, Multan, Muzaffargarh, Rahim Yar Khan, Rawalpindi, and Sargodha, a press release issued by the bank said.

“The Punjab government has taken a proactive role in tackling urban development challenges in the province,” said Jude Kohlhase, ADB Senior Urban Development Specialist for Central and West Asia.

“This loan will help the local governments improve spatial and urban planning, prepare environmental assessments, put in place gender action plans with a special focus on gender equality, and incorporate climate resilient designs for priority investments,” according to the ADB official.

The ADB assistance will help establish district metering, demand management areas and pressure management systems; reduce non-revenue water supply caused by technical losses; set utility tariffs and improve cost recovery; support urban water supply, sanitation, solid waste management, transport sector planning and oversight, and coordination of the metropolitan municipal corporations; and improve urban governance policy and statutory frameworks and the institutional capacity of municipal corporations.

The bank noted that Pakistan has experienced rapid urbanisation as rural populations have migrated within the country to find jobs. Urban development challenges are most pronounced in cities in Punjab, which account for 53 per cent of Pakistan’s urban population and experience intermittent access to poor quality water, ineffective wastewater and solid waste management, and severe traffic issues because of lack of public transport and poor traffic management.

The ADB will help identify integrated smart solutions to strengthen institutions’ urban and spatial planning systems. It will also support the preparation of land acquisition and resettlement plans, feasibility studies, and procurement documents. The upcoming projects are in line with the government’s development priorities, which emphasise providing access to safe water, sanitation, urban transport, and a healthy living environment.

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