Satellite Eyes for Tracking Land Use Deviations of Housing Societies from Approved Plans

Over the past few decades, cities are competing to reassert their leading positions in an increasingly globalizing economy, they witness enormous spatial reconfiguration within and expansion beyond the urban territory. Dissatisfaction with the living conditions and many of the associated issues has lead to urbanization which lead to haphazard sprawl and mismanagement of land assets. Rapid urbanization resulted into enormous mushroom developments in the form of new societies and localities in the outskirts of cities and often resulted in unplanned and scattered form.

In the era of green slogans and initiatives of the Government of Pakistan, the green spaces and even the individual tree is considered important. The allocation of open and green space by societies is mandatory for all housing societies. However, when the approved societies plans by the Lahore Development Authority were monitored from Space; in the form of high resolution satellite images; a dis-junction between the plan and the land use of the was observed in most of the societies.

A research study on the comparison of green spaces on actual approved plans and current ground realities of 100 LDA approved housing societies of Lahore district resulted into saddening facts. The satellites capture pictures of the earth surface and provide real time ground realities. Most of the societies have open spaces and parks in their land plans but after development, the park areas are converted into residential / commercial areas. When the satellite images were matched with the approved plans of the societies; the total planned area for green spaces/open spaces in 100 housing societies was found as 5,694 kanals of which only 4,267 kanal area was available on ground. Approximately 1,427 Kanal area still remain barren or any other landuse which should have been converted into green spaces. Multiple cases of violations were observed i.e. a society converted designated park area to number of 5 marla plots, where houses have been constructed. On the other hand, a mosque was developed on a land for approved green area. On the satellite image, one can view the standing water tank instead of a chlorophyll filled tree.

For the Green Tsunami to be implemented successfully over Punjab, Development and City Management Authorities shall devise a monitoring and management mechanism for the implementation of approved plans of societies. There were societies which were approved two decades back, developed roads and other infrastructure but not parks. Strict protocols shall be adopted to ensure the plantations within the societies and the monitoring of the growth as well. There should be green accountability of societies which shall lead to dedicating special green fund for developing and maintaining green spaces. Green ranking of societies is another option, which can generate a competitive atmosphere for cities to generate greater and greener livability situations for the inhabitants.