After the British divided Pakistan and India more than seven decades ago, Suleman Mohammad Sajjad Warraich’s father received a section of land on the outskirts of Lahore. It was a place to put roots in the new nation. Later on, Warraich and his family filled their 300 collective acres with vegetable plots, marigold gardens, and guava groves.

The property was supposed to pass through generations. But early last year Warraich was told that the government would be acquiring the land. He’d be compensated, and his farm turned into something other than agricultural land. That didn’t sit right with him, so he filed a petition opposing the acquisition.

Warraich is among dozens of landowners petitioning against the government's plan to build a megacity from scratch on the banks of the Ravi river, a once-thriving waterway that’s been depleted by pollution and dwindling water levels. The $7-billion endeavor would span 46 kilometers (29 miles) and include housing, commercial areas, hospitals and schools — creating a metropolis that could ease pressure on overpopulated Lahore and support its urbanization. 

But critics worry that the new city, which RUDA says will take 12 to 15 years to build, will replicate Lahore’s problems instead of fixing them — especially its inequality.

Photos and text for Bloomberg Green 

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