This study explores a spatial phenomenon that routinely plays out in large Pakistani cities – unanticipated, spontaneously-formed bazaar-based industrial clusters. These specialized urban districts house economic activities of various kinds but are mainly centered upon manufacturing units of light industrial and consumer goods. Examples include farm implements, surgical instruments, leather products, machine parts, and sports equipment. Such places serve as robust economic centers providing many jobs and livelihoods even if developed in contravention of land uses specified by statutory master plans.
Such bazaar industrial clusters mostly develop outside the officially designated areas earmarked for industrial development. Since not identified as planned industrial districts in land use plans and government records, these bazaar clusters are commonly labelled ‘informal’ even though many businesses exhibit formal attributes such as property ownership, rental agreements, utility connections, and tax payments. Planners routinely portray these bazaar industrial clusters as unplanned developments, often because there is no government planning involved, but recent literature suggests that such places are result of wide-ranging planning efforts by multiple stakeholders working beyond state planning.
Therefore, this research seeks to understand the nature, configuration, and integration of such bazaar based industrial clusters. The researcher will conduct profiling of the major bazaar based industrial clusters of metal works in Punjab Pakistan. Such clusters include varieties of metal works like metal casting, forging, fabrication, processing, and foundry etc. Further, the study will explore the interplay between the agency of various planning actors and the dominant power structures. This research will document and estimate the linkages tying these places with the larger urban and regional economic networks. The ultimate aim of this research however is to draw planning and policy lessons helpful to decision-makers for leveraging the omnipresent, productive bazaar-based industrial clusters toward larger social good while reducing the negative externalities and promoting the positive ones.