by Zulfiqar Ali Khan
HUNZA, Jan 21: The rapid rise in the level of the artificial lake formed on the Hunza River, due to the devastating landslide of Jan 4 at Atabad has endangered thousands of people in the area.
Lt-Gen Najeeb of Army Engineering Corps and Maj-Gen Shahid Niaz of the Frontier Works Organisation (FWO) visited the sites and assured to breach the block to release the water in 45 days.
The local people, however, are showing their dissatisfaction over the pace of work and sceptical about the 45 days deadline. They said that the lake water would submerge the whole Ayeenabad and major parts of Shishkat village before the deadline, rendering thousands of people homeless and destroying their properties.
An expert of Focus Humanitarian Assistance, a non-government organisation, monitoring the situation, told Dawn that the lake stretched on 8.9 kilometres with a depth of over 16 meters. He said the level of water in the lake was rising at a rate of 3.6 feet per 24 hours and the height of the spill point from the lake was 295 feet. About 339 individuals in Ayeenabad and 119 families in Shishkat Payeen (lower) were facing potential threat, he said. He further said that nine households had been evacuated to safer places.
The sudden outburst due to the pressure of the water could also wash away the low-lying settlements, bridges on KKH and community properties in Hunza-Nagar and Gilgit districts.
Ghulam Abbas, an affected person from Ayeenabad, said that about 800 kanal of cultivable and non-cultivable land with thousands of fruit and forest trees had already submerged in the lake. DAWN