by Zulfiqar Ali Khan
HUNZA, January 10: The Governor of Gilgit-Baltistan Qamar Zaman Kaira distributed cheques of Rs. 5 lac each among the families of the 13 people who have lost their lives and Rs one lac among those who received injuries in the catastrophic landslides of Jan 04, 2010 in Attabad Hunza. The Governor also visited the disaster sites in Attabad and the camps of affected people in Altit. Speaker Gilgit-Baltistan Legislative Assembly, Wazir Baig, Member GBLA Mutabiat Shah and Muhammad Ali Akhtar, General Secretary PPP Gilgit-Baltistan Ghulam Muhammad, Force Commander Gilgit-Baltistan, Chief Secretary, home secretary and secretaries of other departments were also accompanying him during the visit.
Addressing the gatherings in Gulmit and Altit, the Governor assured all efforts from the federal and Govt of Gilgit-Baltistan in the relief and rehabilitation of the affected people. He said the present Government has fulfilled the promise of giving the self governance package to Gilgit-Baltistan and will also fulfil the promise to compensate and rehabilitate the affected people of Attabad and surrounding areas. He said the government is ready to either compensate the people in monetary term or develop a township for permanent settlement under the recommendation of the affected community. He also announced to write-off the housing and agricultural loans of the affected communities. He said PM relief fund will be soon established to mobilise further resources for the relief and rehabilitation.
He applauded the efforts of the local community for immediate responses in search and rescue activities. “The women volunteers of Hunza are playing pivotal role in the relief operation and I am happy to say that the president has decided to appoint a women Governor for Gilgit-Baltistan’, he added.
He said the Government is responsible to ensure food supply to the 22,000 population of Upper Hunza-Gojal affected due to the blockade of KKH. He said the relevant authorities have started works on the release of water from the lake and clear the debris from KKH. The pony track will be cleared within a week, he added.
During his visit to Gulmit, he directed the Chief Secretary to deploy a surgeon in Gulmit hospital and immediately approve the PC-4 of the hospital. He said the local people should be preferred for jobs in the hospital.
Wazir Baig, Speaker GBLA thanked PM Yousuf Raza Gilani for his personal interest in the incidence. He also praised Chief Minister Sind for providing Rs 7 million in the relief fund of the affected people. He said the Chief Minister Gilgit-Baltistan Syed Mehdi Shah will distribute cheques to the families of the 6 people who are missing, as their chances of survival are now not present.
Nazir Sabir, former member GBLA and famous mountaineer while highlighting the role of the volunteers of Hunza in the Azad Kashmir earthquake said that the voluntary spirit in the community will not let the affected people feel alien in camps.
Dr. Khawaja Khan, President Ismaili Regional Council for Hunza briefed the Governor regarding the pre and post disaster situations. He requested the authorities to immediately resettle the affected people in order to normalise their lives.
“We have lost all sources of income therefore the Government should also help us in the education of our children”, demanded Liaqat Ali, a representative of the affected people.
According to reports the lake formed due to the blockade of Hunza River has started covering the Ayeenabad settlement in Upper Hunza. Experts have reported that the water will cover about nine houses within two or three days. According to Sher Wali, Geologist of FOCUS Humanitarian Assistance, the blockade on river is 394 feet high from the river bed and the water level is increasing 0.4 feet per hour. He said the debris is 2,407 feet from sea level.
“The blockade of KKH has also started food crisis in Gojal. Majority of people lack proper food storage and the crisis will worsen within a week”, said Aziz Jan Chairman Union Council Gojal-1. He said the increase of water in the lake has created panic among the people living in the low lying areas. The government should concentrate on immediate release of water from the lake, he further demanded.