by Zulfiqar Ali Khan
HUNZA, Feb 13: The landslide affected people from Gojal and Hunza staged a demonstration in Aliabad calling upon the government to declare Gojal as calamity-hit area.
They said the authorities had not yet realised the miseries of more than 25,000 people of Gojal valley due to the blockade of Hunza River and Karakoram Highway (KKH). They demanded special financial package for Gojal as the economic activities in the valley had come to a grinding halt after the January 4 disaster.
They expressed dissatisfaction on the pace of work and demanded of the government to direct Frontiers Works Organisation to deploy more machinery to immediately develop a breach in the more than 11km-long lake formed on the Hunza River. “If the pace of the work remained the same, a large area in lower Gojal will submerge in the lake”, they feared. The protesters said the 3,000 people of Shishkat will cut off from the rest of the country due to the inundation of the main bridge on the KKH. They criticised the Gilgit-Baltistan Health Department for not materialising the announcement of Governor Gilgit-Baltistan Qamar Zaman Kaira to establish an emergency operation unit at the only hospital of Gojal.
“The Gilgit-Baltistan Disaster Management Authority has not yet provided any relief to the affected people in Gojal despite a large number of relief goods received from federal government, government of Punjab and Utility Stores Corporation” , the speakers said. They demanded of the authorities to immediately register the affected people of Ayeenabad and Shishkat as IDPs and provide immediate relief to them.
They demanded of the government to provide food and accommodation to the 550 men and women stranded in Aliabad and Gulmit due to stoppage of helicopter services and any other alternate arrangement. “The examinations of the stranded students are approaching and the school officials have threatened to discontinue their regular enrolments due to their long absence from schools,” they said.
Meanwhile, an official from Gojal informed this scribe on phone that about 300 students, 10 foreigners and 17 patients, were stranded in Gulmit due to lack of any transportation facilities. He said only 2 helicopter sorties had lifted 25 patients and some government officials from Gojal since Feb 2. DAWN