Gilgit - Baltistan

DC, Gilgit and AC, Hunza visited Ghulkin

by: Zulfiqar Ali Khan

Hunza, June 16: District Commissioner Gilgit, Muhammad Usman Younis and Assistant Commissioner Hunza, Soqrat Aman Rana have visited the Ghulkin village to distribute relief goods among the people affected from the glacier lake outburst floods. The relief goods comprised of 3 tents, 100 kgs each of rice, sugar and cooking oil. 

A large number of community members and other notables were also present at the occasion. The relief goods were handed over to village committee for further distribution. The local community has demanded for compensation of the actual losses rather than disribution of token goods to the affected families.

Secretary, Ismaili Local Council Gulmit, Fazal Karim briefed the authorities regarding the damages caused by GLOFs on May 22, May 24 and June 14. He said that about 20 families have lost majority of their cultivable land, houses, cattle sheds, orchards and forest trees and almost 6,500 inhabitants of Ghulkin, Hussainin and Borith villages are still prone to the geological processes taking place in Ghulkin and Passu glaciers.

Aziz Jan, Chairman Union Council Gulmit in his apeech appealed to the Federal Governemnt to rehabilitate the affected families and mitigate the losses. He has demanded from the local administration to conduct a scientific study about the movement of glaciers in the region in order to devise a comprehensive strategy to avoid any disaster in the region.

District Commissioner Gilgit, responding, said that there is no permanent fund to immediately respond to natural calamities. He, however, said that disaster management plans have been developed at district level and will be implemented after approval from relevant authorities. He said that reports have been submitted to National Disaster Management Authority for further action.

The local community has shown concern over lake of interest from Government to conduct risk assessment survey in order to develop disaster management strategy for the disaster prone villages surrounding the Ghulkin and Passu glaciers. District Commissioner repliled that a professional from UNDP has already visited Ghulkin and Passu glacier sites in order to make a risk assessment for the surrounding villages.

Amber Masud, Project support officer of Regional GLOF Risk Reduction Initiative –UNDP has told PT on telephone that Passu and Ghulkin glaciers have been selected as project sites during April however, the project has not yet started its activities in the region.  She said that UNDP will implement this project in collaboration with National Disaster Management Authority and FOCUS Humanitarian in coming days.

Zulfiqar Ali Khan’s report for Daily DAWN

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  1. Thanks PT volunteers for the up-date and showing sympathy on the current GLOF at Ghulkin Glacier and its damages. It is good notion of the local administration to visit and see the victims of the GLOF who lost their holdings such as houses, agriculture fields, orchards, trees and cattle’s since April to the current GLOF on June 14, 2008 in different intervals. But on the other hand the visit seems only to show their (faces) presence to the media. For instance, during the first GLOF in April Mr. Sifatullah Baig lost more than 15 cattle’s and potato fields including many other trees. The local administration surveyed and estimated the losses but did nothing else.

    On the second interval Mr. Shahgun Baig and sons (Meharban Karim and Hasan Ali) lost their agriculture fields, orchards, trees and house including many others in their neighboring areas. The same reporting and visit was paid by the local administration but the victims did not get any relief from them.

    In the third and fourth interval of GLOF the heaviest disaster which made more damages and washed many agriculture lands, orchards, wheat and potato fields of Mr.Awal Baig, Mr. Ghulam Rehman, Mr. Amir Ali Shah so late Nazar Baig (also destroyed his house), Mr. Muhammad Qurban and many others in their neighboring areas.

    At each GLOF there were huge damages of 5 water channels, the link road but there was no any systematic documentation or survey report produced to the media by the administration and even the GEO TV News and K-2 News Paper made a blunder by showing all the happenings at Hussaini village instead of Ghulkin. Even because of that reporting MNA Marvi Memon did the same mistake by highlighting the issue in the national Assembly.

    According to Pamir Times DC Gilgit and his administration team visited Ghulkin and “The relief goods were comprised of 3 tents 100 kg each of rice, sugar and cooking oiL” (courtesy to PT)

    Any mature individual can guess and say this is not a rational by saying that the government has not the provision of emergency fund. The area needs restructuring and rehabilitation in terms of repairing of 5 water channels, link road, and electricity and to accommodate the compensation of the affected individuals.

    Thanks for the FOCUS volunteers and dedicated social workers in the community who always try to update the local administration and the communities from the alarming situation instead of their vulnerable resources. I am always optimistic to see our community in facing difficulties with courage and brave manners.

    I remember the GLOF at Passu Glacier and the responses from the community volunteers but the responses from the government side were not different from the case at Ghulkin.

    Thanks Pamir Times and to highlight the disaster with fact and figures. I hope through your website the public and private institutions related to the geographical and Social Welfare related issues will open their eyes to see the reality.


    Sharif Khan

  2. Dear Zulfiqar Ali Khan
    Thanks for acquainted us with the GLOFs and its disaster and providing such a nice information with pictures. Chief Commissioner is right that there is no permanent fund, because there is nothing except returning the funds to the federal government in the end of every fiscal year. It’s our bad luck that we’ve no planners to plan and even no vision for future. I just pray for the affected families may Allah give them courage to bear and handle such losses.
    You have mentioned Aziz Jan, Chairman Union Council Gulmit but the picture you have displayed is Niyat Qurban, Chairman Union Council Ghulkin so please correct it.

  3. Dear Zulfiqar Bhai,
    A great job you are doing by providing updates about the devastating situation.
    It is really a surprizing situation as the government has no allocation of budget for the natural disasters and it is very much evident that mountanous areas are more prone to such disasters.
    I will urge the government to take this issue into earnest consideration and devise some effective strategies to cope up the natural disasters.
    So far the situation seems to have worsened and immediate planing is required by the government and local bodies having the assistance of some experts towards the minimization the the risk.
    I would like to show my deepest sympathy to my brother Amir Ali Shah(Nazar Baig) for the heavy loss including orchards and crop fields.
    Indeed uncle Nazar Baig(late) and aunti Jamila(late) had really worked hard in changing a floody barren land into orchards and green land.You would definately be having a tough time but let me tell you that it is all natural and not in the control of man.Nature has its own demands and its own way.I hope you will move on patiently and will accept the reality of the nature.
    My deepest sympathy is with you and all those who have lost their crops and other assets.
    I would once again urge the government to comeup with some possible options and omit the word of impossibility from her dictionary as the budget for the northern areas must be having compensation options in such uncertain conditions
    Aslam Ghalib

  4. I have been taught that HOPE is important because it can make the present moment less difficult to bear. If we believe that tomorrow will be better, we can bear a hardship today.

    I believe that difficult times always create opportunities for us to experience more love in our lives. This is a simple test of God’s will and God always test the ones with iron hands and souls of utmost power.

    LOVE and PRAYERS for the affectees. God hasnt taken anything from you, He is just planning to bless you people more and more.


  5. It is really an influential reporting by Zulfiker Ali about the current GLOF at Ghulkin Glacier,
    The UNDP has selected two glaciers Passu and Ghulkin for conducting research on its changes, it is appreciate able but another glaciers in the valley Kamaris glacier is the most danger glacier in the region and need the attention of UNDP and the other authorities as well

    Kamaris glacier is situated on the top of the Gulmit village, I remember once I heard from my father that there also happened such flood after outburst of a lake at the Kamaris glacier in 1970s and was about to hit the village by changing its direction at Coock Chaszm and also at the end of Batbekour but the villagers including volunteers from others villages gathered there and succeeded to stop overflowing of the flood at both places by standing big stones, sandbags and large piece of trees

    So now because of the global warming it may be possible to happen again “a stitch in time can save nine” therefore I would like to also invite the attentions of the Union, District and NA Councils to keep in mind the Kamaris glacier as that is danger not only for a few houses, forests and potato fields but that is more risk for the whole population of the Tehsil Headquarter of Gojal.

    Ghulam Rehman

  6. Dear Friends kindly note that the project is being funded by DEPECHO and is being implemented by UNDP and NADMA.
    Thanks to zulfikar for his support and all of you for sharing related information.

  7. Dear Friends, it’s very sad to know that such an event has happened for the
    third time in such a short time period and it’s quite alarming. About this
    particular lake, i had asked the local government and community for
    information and also requested them to have the water level of lake and
    volume of discharged water monitored regularly. According to their
    observations the water level in the lake was decreasing continuously and
    apparently it wasn’t threatening but than again in such situations one
    should be realistic and very cautious, as it’s evident from the recent GLOF
    event. What seems to have happened is that the water outlet from the lake
    was blocked by debris, giving rise to the incidence of increase in water
    level and volume leading to an outburst. We have entered a period of
    consequence and global rise in temperature is indeed a result of
    anthropogenic activities. It was correctly quoted that ‘Nature goes her own
    way, and all that to us seems an exception is really according to order’.
    There have been frequent complaints about lack of assistance from the local
    government but realistically looking at things the response of government or
    any other agencies in rural areas is usually slow regardless of how
    efficient they are, though I totally agree with the fact that the government
    has to propose lasting solutions for the subject problem, not only in Gojal
    but in all other vulnerable areas. And incase of northern areas in
    situations of disasters the communities become isolated islands because
    mostly access routes are blocked. We have to understand that in such
    situations the first response always comes from the communities and to my
    observation local community response to such disasters in the NAs has been
    great but it does need further improvement. I believe that the community if
    trained in disaster preparedness would be able take control of any situation
    in a more efficient and organized manner. It’s all about being geared up by
    ensuring that the individuals, families and all community members are aware
    of the potential hazards or threats in a region and are well prepared in
    advance for any disaster. People can actually make a lot of difference for
    the better, working within the community.

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