Gojal is the the largest Tehsil of Gilgit – Baltistan, located at a strategically important point; at the rendezvous of three global powers. This land of beauty and opportunity is now faced with a natural calamity as a result of the the landslide that hit Attabad on January 4, killing 19 native and blocked flow of the Khujrav (Hunza) River. It also resulted in disconnection of the Karakuram Highway, the economic lifeline of Gojal valley and the only land route between China and Pakistan. The lake formation that resulted because of the river blockage is causing houses, orchards, cultivable and non – cultivable land and thousands of trees to submerge. Over one hundred people have already been displaced by the lake while hundreds more could be victims of the green serpent – like lake that spans over 11 km of area.
The source of income for hundreds of people has closed down. Transporters, businessmen and ordinary people are afraid of the consequences of a prolonged blockade of the Karakuram Highway. The rise in price of basic need commodities (food and fuel) and the problem people are facing in dealing with health emergencies are causing frustration and panic in Gojal valley. Similarly, unavailability of fertilizers is a very important problem that needs to be looked after.
The government shall shun rhetoric and start concrete action to release water from the lake. The government also needs to look beyond provision of relief to the displaced people only. The economic revival of Gojal valley will take more than a few rotten and rusty boats or a few sacks of flour and rice.
by Adil Khan