Gilgit - BaltistanPakistan

Wither the Trees!!

by Arshad Ali Sakhi

Passu, October 10: Thousands of trees have been crushed by earth removing machines as part of the expansion work of the Karakuram Highway, in Passu village of Gojal Valley. Considerable damage has also been caused to the existing road by the heavy machinery being used, affecting the flow of traffic. Animal sheds, orchards and boundary walls have also been demolished, leaving the local community confused, irritated and apprehensive.

The confusion increases manifolds in the absence of any representative of the Tehsil administration, at least, at the work site. People had high hopes that the property damaged will be compensated, systematically, but in the present scenario such hopes have vanished, infuriating the local communities.

The expansion and up gradation of 335km of road from Khunzhrav to Raikot is in full swing in Hunza Valley. This project, according to plans, will be completed by 2011. The project will widening of the road, construction of snow galleries, renovation of 27 bridges, besides adding 480m long tunnels to the existing structure. 18 open cut tunnels (1,975 m) are also to be constructed along with 1,050 culverts and 5 aqueducts.

The local political leaders, including the two members of Northern Areas Legislative Assembly and member of the district council, are not bothered by the hues and cries of the local population.

The communities have demanded that the government shall promptly take action in this regard and record all the damages being caused to private properties of the citizens. Without taking such measures the government will be compromising with the interests of the indigenous people of the valley, making life difficult for them.


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  1. Dear PT readers!
    People of Northern Areas were longing to have the KKH widened for ages. Now the process has been started and people must be happy with it. But as per the news story, peopel don’t seem to be pleased with the process. Now, development brings sort of disturbance, to some extent, with it. Be it deconstruction of buildings, consuming agricultural land, removal of fixed assetts etc. But a little sacrifice on part of people should be expected who will be benefitted ultimately from the development process. ‘Of course the government of Pakistan will benefit enormously from the project as well China by easily accessing the coasts of Pakistan to export its goods. But it is another topic in its kind(Al-Hakim)’.
    Development plans are decided in the larger interest of the nations. Complaining about the development process, in my opinion, is not fair especially in this case. Ultimately Northern Areas will get benefit from the project. For this a little sacrifice of a piece of land and or trees should be considered a participation in the development process.
    Complaining about the apathy of tehsil administration and elected representatives is a fair one. This apathy has been the order of the day for them. From top to bottom of elected representation of Northern Areas and Pakistan is after personal gains. They are in no way “Public Represtatives”. They are representing rather a group with vested interests, including contractors, PWD officials and suppliers.
    The next Northern Areas’ elections are a year away from today. The need is to awake people politically. Unfortunately, the masses in Northern Areas, especially people of Hunza are politically demotivated terming politics as unethical and against religion. If politcs was the worst thing in the world, the great leaders in the would should have avoided it.
    Some figures in Nothern Areas, Hunza being on the top, have “played politics” benefited from the innocence of the people in the name of family, clan, personal status, and links with government.
    What can we do to avoid such “mis-represntation” is to discourage the “family”, “clan”, “personal status”, “links with INFLUENTIALS” and such notions to bring forward a true represntation. Its not a “rocket science”. Its as simple as voting the best person at all levels, decouraging the above mentioned notions. We must learn and understand that mere slogans and high promises will not work for real represntation and development. As for as cutting of trees is concerned, of course we are at the verge of climate change owing to deforestration and our carelessness. But this can be reversed withh a very simple solution, ‘Plant more trees where there is a barren land.” It may be difficult for some people but a strong determination to cope with the problem may bring pleasing results.

  2. Thanks irshad Ali Sakhi for reporting and highliting this important news .This is very important to aware the people of Gojal to come forward to get their due right and compansation for their land,trees and physical structures.I would like to mention here that the chinies can not start work on the expansion of KKH till payment of land compansation and cost of structure to the owners by the NHA authorities.It is mandatory to record and asses all the trees and structure will be damaged in this process.we were already given huge losess during the construction of KKH in the past when people were unaware and 80% of the compansation was awarded to the Mir of Hunza.After that the local administration imposed restriction of any construction along the KKH about 65 Feet away and this restriction were not followed any were along the KKH i.e.
    HUNZA,NAGER,DANYOR,CHILAS,AND KOHISTAN.Now it is time our politicians,leader of the community,youth and general public should demand the authorities for no more injustice and might of right police.KKH is an international Highway so compansation should be paid according to international approved rates in advance.
    Shadia Rumi

  3. Development works bring damges too, the prime responsibility of a govt is to compesate the folks on the damage, local rep. should take this situation up to the gvot.
    my fully sampaties are with the passu people.

  4. Bravo, Arshad for your valuable contribution highlighting a very important problem being faced by the local community in terms of loss in valuable property. Besides loss in property we are at loss in terms of social problems being created out of this mega project. I would like our youth to identify social and cultural challenges being faced by our rural society due to opening of Sost border and the mega project of Expansion of Karakoram Highway.

    This can identify problems and people can come up with alternatives and solutions to overcome these challenges also we can raise our voices to the authorities.

    So far our political leadership is concerned, we simply have no leadership who are capable of safeguarding our interest nor they are bothered by the losses to the community because they are only looking after their own businesses so we should not look towards them.

    The local community should unite for themselves and have the government authorities involved as we all know these people only want to draw salaries and escape from official responsibilities.

  5. That’s fact there are destruction in such road expansions but how much we sacrifice and every time without any compensation we sacrifice, how much land or prosperity we have, small patches at the bottom of mountains and most of people survival in on their small agriculture lands and the benefits and compensations are received by other people who are in government, as the evidences proved that during the road construction nothing given to the effected communities along the KKH. We know very well our representatives, how much they are sincere to the communities suffering in different disasters.

  6. People in the northern areas are not landloards, All of them possess small piece of land and they are totally dependent on them. It is the responsibility of the government to compensate the affectees.

    I am really surprised to read the comments of Tayyaba, who called it a little sacrifice. It is not a little sacrifice, rather a matter of survival and existance of the people. It is the prime responsibility of government to compensate the affectees.


  7. Then what about the benefits people will have from the road. Its a long rather ever lasting benefit to have a grand road like KKH besides the land. If you are talking about the government, I have made clear comment on it as well on the OUR ECLECTED representatives, you just need to read the article thoruuoghly.

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