Words: Ghulam Nasir Images: Asghar Khan & Ameen Saif Pamiri
Gilgit, March 9: Speakers at a conference held in Gilgit today said that if the government did not increase pace of the debris removal work at barrier of the lake formed on Hunza River the ensuing threat posed by the lake would inflict heavy losses to life and property from Hunza to Tarbella. The political leaders also threatened to launch a movement across GB if pace of the debris removal work was not enhanced and if the government did not take concrete steps to safeguard life and property of people upstream and downstream of the lake. The speakers included leaders of various political parties and religious groups. The speakers unanimously termed the lake hazard to be of great risk for the entire region and not only Gojal valley.
Conference papers read during the event highlighted the existing and future human, economic and cultural cost of the Gojal lake hazard. The speakers unanimously demanded of the government to declare Gojal valley as calamity hit and develop service delivery mechanism for health, education and economy. The speakers also expressed dissatisfaction with the pace of work and demanded that the debris removal contract shall be given to a consortium of international agencies instead of relying solely on the expertise of FWO.
The conference had been called by the coordination committee of affected people of Gojal valley.
The conference was also attended by representatives of FOCUS Pakistan. Regional program manager of the humanitarian agency said that they have trained communities in 23 vulnerable villages of Hunza – Nagar and Gilgit districts for coping with the challenges that might be caused by a sudden release of water from the artificial lake formed on Hunza river. He also said that FOCUS has installed sms triggered modern sirens at 12 most vulnerable villages along the bank of Hunza River to alert the people during disaster situation. He further said that FOCUS provided three months food for the displaced people of Attabad village and is providing food and other relief material to the displace people of Ayeenabad as well.
Also present at the occasion was the representative of Pakistan Red Crescent Society. He also explained PRCS’ role during the Attabad disaster.
Hafiz Hafeez ur Rehman of PML (N) said that the government has not been able to satisfy the local people’s demands and that his party stands with people of the disaster hit area. Other speakers at the occasion were MLA Mirza Hussain, Nawaz Khan Naji (BNF), Kalb Ali, Ghulam Muhammad (PPP), Ali Qurban, Fazal Amin Baig and Rehan Shah. The speakers expressed solidarity with the people of Gojal and said that they would mobilize support for the cause of Gojal.
Representatives of various government departments were also present during the conference.