An aerial view of Ayeen Abad Village which is gradually being submerged by the expanding disaster lake formed on Hunza River. Lower parts of the village have already been submerged, destroying fields and orchards.
by Zulfiqar Ali Khan
HUNZA, Jan 17: The people of Gojal have demanded steps for immediate release of water from the lake formed on the Hunza River, which was blocked by a devastating landslide on Jan 4. “The Atabad lake is posing threat to the low-lying settlements of Ayeenabad and Shishkat but the government has not taken any concrete step to release the water even after 13 days,” said Bulbul Jan, chairman Union Council Shishkat. He said the government should start work on releasing water from the lake.
“We are forced to live in camps faraway in Altit while leaving behind our homes and other properties,” said a person evacuated from Ayeenabad. He said that about nine families were currently living in relief camps and requested the authorities to save their houses, and other properties.
Kiramatullah, a social activist from Shishkat, said that the situation had created panic among villagers and none of the government officials had so far informed the people regarding strategy to reduce threats to the settlements. “Providing food packs through helicopters was not enough for the entire stranded community in Gojal,” he added.
Darvesh Ali, political activist, demanded of the government to focus on release of water instead of airlifting food and engaging the people. He rejected any option to develop a dam in the blocked area.
PRCS RELIEF: The Pakistan Red Crescent Society (PRCS) is providing food, shelter and health facilities to 2,100 landslide affected people at its four camps established in schools and colleges in Karimabad, Hunza.
According to a statement of the society, issued here on Sunday, a medical team with medicines had also been sent through helicopter to Shishkat village in Gojal, upper Hunza.
“The PRCS volunteers through helicopters are providing food and other necessary items to the people of Gojal, which has been cut off from rest of the world due to blockage of the Karakoram Highway (KKH),” it said.
Deputy Commissioner Hunza-Nagar Zafar Waqar Taj, during a meeting with PRCS officials, said that due to blockade of the KKH about 25,000 population of Gojal valley were facing shortage of food, fuel, medicines and other daily use items.
PRCS vice-chairperson Senator Nilofar Bakhtiar along with a team would visit Hunza to meet the victims and see rescue, relief and rehabilitation efforts. DAWN