Gilgit - Baltistan

Widening of KKH starts

by Zulfiqar Ali Khan

HUNZA, August 26: The Chinese construction firms have started the widening and expansion work of the 335km Karakurum Highway (KKH) from Khunjerab to Raikot. The work has been initially started in Hunza section after establishing 4 camps at different locations from Khunjerab to Nasirabad. The main secretariat has been established at Gulmit, some 40 km north of Aliabad, Hunza. The $510 million worth highway is expected to be completed by 2011.

The construction of camps in Nagar and other parts of Gilgit is in process. Heavy construction machinery with about 300 Chinese labours and engineers from China has reached Hunza. The collapse of the main bridge on KKH has however created problems in moving heavy machineries to Gilgit.

The expansion of the KKH was inaugurated by President Pervez Musharraf last year. The project has been started late as the Chinese engineers left the country last year due to security reasons. Special police force has been developed to ensure security of Chinese workers.

According to official statistics, the project will improve the grades, construct snow galleries, improve 27 bridges, add 480m long tunnels, 18 open cut tunnels (1,975 m), besides constructing 1,050 culverts, 5 aqueducts and retaining walls.

The KKH, after expansion, is expected to serve as a trade corridor, not only with China, but also the Central Asian Republics will get shortest access to Arabian Sea.

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  1. Really a great news for the people of Gilgit-Baltistan. As the communication means get cheaper the economic activities will be accelerated so the living standard of the area will be improved. We will always remember Ex-President Mushsharaf for his support and love with the people of GB.

    We pray for the early completion of the project while maintaining the international standard of road construction.

  2. Dear Zulfiqar,

    Thanks for sharing this noble news. The expansion of KKH will contribute in the development of Pakistan in general and Gilgit_ Baltistan in particular. We pray for its peaceful and successful completion as desired and mentioned in the plan. However, our youths need to take care for their academic and social developments and avoid from the bad airs, if any, during this mega project and flow of masses around from the globe.

    I would also like to appeal to our Imamati and Jamati institutions to give awareness to our Jamat regarding the strengths and threats, while the expansion of KKH is in progress. Particularly, our youth’s needs to be a role model for our young kids and avoid from undesirable social evils.

    It is just to remind that while; we did start china trade and got involved in illegal, unethical and undesirable habits. Therefore, we didn’t get much economic benefit from this valuable international route, while other masses did influence the trade. It is therefore very important to reflect on our past and learn lesson for our future life.

    Thanks and regards
    Sharif Khan

  3. There are many positive and negative impacts of the KKH extension.

    Positives are:

    >. Trade with china and central Asian countries will boost in future
    >. Batter communication facility to public and tourists
    >. Employment opportunities for skilled and unskilled labor
    >. Opportunity to get experience from Chinses technologies.
    >. To learn language skills
    >. Business for transporters, hotels, restaurants, shops etc

    Negatives Impacts:

    >. Environmental pollution and hazards due to explosions and dusts
    >. Social problems, disturbances and traffic problems
    >. Geological and geomorphologic impacts on mountains ranges, cracks, faults, collisions sliding etc
    >. Erosion and sedimentation of dames

    there are so many other impacts but as Sharif sab mentioned, specialty our youth have to be careful, not to involve in bed habits.

    Ali Rehmat

  4. Thank you Zulfiqar for sharing the information. Widening of KKH is no doubt going to bring more prosperity to the people of Northern Areas via econonic avenues and noval opportunties. Apart from all this, I would like to share that we also have a unique natural entity called Khunjerab National Park along the KHH in Gojal, Hunza, which seems to be affected by this initiative.

    some 5540 sq km, KNP is home to immense bilogical diversity, and a great source of income for the peripheral communities in shape of trophy hunting. It is the only biodiversity hotspot in the cold ecoregion of Pakistan. Presence of Marco polo sheep, blue sheep, himalayan ibex, brown bear, wild as and Snow leopard make the park a heaven for nature lovers. Peaks, treks and wilderneses add to natural beauty of the park. Approx. 56 KM of the road passes through KNP, starting from Pamirchi bridge uptil the Khunjerab Pass. Area on both sides of the road serve as habitat for wildlife. Geoecologically, the park being in an arid regime, is sparse in vegetation, which indeed is the sole source of food for most of the herbivores.

    The widening of road, without a prior EIA is going to have a devastating impact on the ecology of the park. It is perhaps going to erode the vegetation, cause forced migration of wildlife, cease their growth, pollute water bodies, cut trees for fuel wood and dump huge piles of waste, both solid and liquids.

    One can easily understand, how these havocs are going to affect life up and downstream. So inorder to avoid irreparable losses to the natural integrity of the Park, and associated values, I would suggest for holding an impartial EIA, suggesting workable measures to mitigate most common anticiapted environmental threats of the widening project.

  5. A great initiative that remained a dream after the construction of the KKH.
    It will change the exisitng scenario and people will get more ease and comfort in travelling and the risks would be minimized to a greater extent.
    At mege level it will remain a supporitve factor in the promotion of trade and many new opportunities will ipen up for the dwellers of the region.
    It is a great initiative and hopefully will bring true many dreams.
    Aslam Ghalib

  6. really it is a great and frish news for all readers, if we discuss the advantages and disadvantages of the expansion of KKH it will create alots of employments for the local people, and there is also a lots of disadvantages now it is up to the community to select the positive aspect.
    after that it is up to the govternment of pakistan to protect the environment of KNP(khunjerab National Park) b/c it is need of the time to protect and give safty to the wild animals of KNP which are indanger.

  7. KKH is the avenue of development for Hunza in particular and Gilgit – Baltistan in general. Its has brought prosperity to the region. But like all development catalysts, it has invaded the cultural and social ettiquite of the region. Its never too late, we all must think seriously about maintaining our unique social setup.

  8. Is it possible to see some of the schools established by
    Grg Mortensson?
    Is it safe for an Indian-American to travel KKH?
    What is best way to travel KKH? by bus by SUVs orby Jeeps?

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