By Noor Aftab
With all concerned departments fighting hard to cope with the critical situation, which emerged after blockade of Hunza River as a result of massive landslide that struck on January 4, any kind of water outburst at this stage can render thousands of people homeless in the area.
According to the data submitted by relevant experts to the environment ministry, about 25,000 people would be cut off from the downstream communities in case of sudden water outburst.
The land mass has completely blocked the Hunza River and filled two kilometres of its gorge with sand and rocks. An artificial lake has formed on the Hunza River inundating a number of villages in Gojal area. “If such an event occurs, there is a potential for a large flood wave to travel downstream as far as Tarbela Dam that would greatly endanger the downstream population. All the bridges starting from Sarat down to Gilgit area are extremely vulnerable because the outburst of lake can generate a wave of 20 to 30 meters high,” it said.
The incident occurred on January 4 when already cracked mountain located above a scenic and tiny village Attabad slid off and buried most of the village along with other areas including Payeen, Bala, Sarat and Ayeenabad. The data from one of the experts also said that a survey was conducted after appearance of cracks in the mountain of Attabad due to seismic activity and a detailed report was prepared but the concerned departments to avoid any untoward incident did nothing.
FOCUS Pakistan that conducts regular geological survey and hazard assessments of vulnerable areas especially in the mountainous areas of northern Pakistan in its assessment report compiled in 2006 stated that there was a high risk of rapid movements and potential disaster.
The statistics provided by FOCUS said over 200 families were registered in four school camps established in the area. Trucks carrying relief goods including flour, rice, sugar, pulses, tea, fuel, kitchen utilities, blankets, pillows and other items have been continuously arriving and relief items are being stored under the supervision of local administration.
A report updated by National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) said approximately 1.5 kilometres of river has been blocked as a result of massive landslide and water level has further rose by 1.4 feet in last 24 hours. The officials of the environment ministry, local administration of Gilgit-Baltistan, Wapda, FWO and NDMA have already held two sessions of marathon discussion but a final and viable solution to cope with this problem is yet to be announced by them.
The blockade has severe implications for local people as the supply of food, medicines and other essentials is a daunting task unless road is completely opened for general traffic.
Talking to ‘The News’, the activists of Hunza Youth Front demanded of the government to launch large scale immediate relief operation as grant worth Rs0.2 million is just an eye wash in the face of disastrous situation being faced by the victims.
When contacted Director General of Environment Ministry Javed Ali Khan said they have been closely monitoring the situation and steps are being taken to amicably come out of it after blockade of the Hunza River. “We held two long sessions in the recent days and took input from all the relevant departments after which effective measures are being taken not only to remove blockade but also ensure safety of the people living there,” he said. The NEWS