by Muhammad Darjat
Landslide of 4th January, in Attaabad village of Hunza, 15 Km north of central Hunza in Gilgit-Baltistan, needs steps to save livelihood means of small farmers up and downstream Hunza River. The river is one of the major water inflows to Tarbela Dam which has been stopped for the past 30 days. The massive landslide resulted in the death of 13 people, injuries to nine, and still six people are missing. Two hundred families have been registered in four camp schools in Altit village.
Relief operations are being carried out by the government of Pakistan (National Disaster Authority/local administration G-B) with facilitation from FOCUS Humanitarian Assistance Program of AKDN, PRCS and local volunteers. However, community friendly approach is needed for rehabilitation of the population of Attabad who have lost their physical assets due to the landslide. The landslide debris have blocked Hunza River and it has converted into a lake upstream. During the past 30 days the water has accumulated over a length of 10.5 KM upstream Hunza River and it has touched the pillars of Chinese built bridge. Over 5 Km of Karakorum Highway has been washed away and 22,000 population of Wakhi and Borshu cut off through land from rest of the country.
The government has initiated helicopter service which is transporting people and essential items but due to bad weather the helicopter service could not operate. Moreover the helicopter service would become too expensive unless the road is opened. The water flow from upstream watersheds and a number of glaciers, including 63 Km Batura Glacier and Glacier melts from Hussani/Gulkin Glacier Shimshal, Chipurson and Khunjarab valleys is being accumulated in a natural gorge. The lake has hit two villages (Ayeenabad and Shiskat) upstream Hunza River in Gojal valley. Small farmers have lost cultivated land, orchards and domestic forests, major part of their livelihood. The lake is rising one metre every 24 hours and is creating potential threat to settlements up and downstream. The people in Gojal Valley have demanded protective measures before settlements upstream go under water. In case the lake bursts, the villages and major physical infrastructures downstream would be washed away and rehabilitation of people would further put pressure on the national economy.
So far chief minister G-B, members of LA, DG, NDMA (twice), governor G-B, Minister Kashmir Affairs, MNA, Ms Marvi Memon, chief secretary G-B, and officials of NHA and WAPDA have visited the site but the key problem still remains. Despite visit of concerned officials to the site, not even a single cusec of water from the lake has yet been released. The glacier outbursts and landslides of abnormal sizes and river erosions are some of the indicators of climate change in that mountainous part of the world and these require serious attention of the experts at world level.
At the Attabad landslide site 82-metre high debris has to be excavated for a cut which may ensure outflow of the water which is most needed and is desirable to save indigenous population up and downstream from displacement. That will also ensure Hunza River inflow to the Tarbela dam so that energy crisis in the country is not deepened further.
Courtesy: Frontier Post