Words and Images: Zulfiqar Ali Khan
HUNZA, April 14: The announcements of the former governor Gilgit-Baltistan would be materialized soon with issuance of the official notification declaring the landslide affected areas of Hunza as calamity-hit , said Dr Shama Khalid, the first female Governor of Gilgit-Baltistan during her visit to the disaster hit Hunza valley. The Governor paid an aerial visit to the disaster site and the over 12 km long lake formed on Hunza River due to the devastative landslide of Jan 4.
Earlier during her visit the she met the people of Shishkat and Ayeenabad, the worst affected villages of Gojal valley. Around 40 houses have been caused to submerge in the lake water and many more are threatened, including a school and two community centers (Jamatkhanas).
The Governor assured to rehabilitate the affected families and compensate their losses. She declared to write-off the loans of the affected people and assured to also consider the small loans taken from different welfare organization. “The Government would provide all possible assistance to the students of the affected areas to continue their education”, she said.
The Chief Minister Gilgit-Baltistan Syed Mehdi Shah, speaker GBLA, deputy speaker and the newly appointed home secretary of GB also accompanied the governor during her maiden visit. Mehdi Shah announced to upgrade the Government Middle School Shishkat to Secondary (High School) level. He directed the health department to ensure the availability of doctor and medicines at the affected areas.
Later, the officials of Frontier Works Organization briefed the Dr. Shama about the progress of the excavation work being carried out for creation of a spillway cut at the lake barrier. The governor was told that the target of 30 meter deep excavation will be soon completed before entering the next phase.
The newly appointed governor also held meetings with the representatives of the affected people of Attabad and Sarat and assured to speed up the process of the financial package for the permanent rehabilitation of the 141 families living in school camps established at Altit village. The Karakoram Highway Compensation committee in their meeting with the Governor demanded immediate payment of the land compensation to the affected people of the KKH expansion project according to the agreed-upon rates.
Addressing to the students of Government Degree College Karimabad hunza the governor assured to provide subject-wise lecturers and construct hostels for the college staff. She stressed the need to educate the women in order to educate and harmonize the whole society.
An expert of FOCUS, monitoring the lake movement, informed this scribe that the water level in the over 12 km long and 263 feet deep lake is increasing at an average daily rate of 1.3 ft. He said the water inflow in the lake is 1082 cusec with 19 Cusec of seepage. He said the lake has already submerged 38 houses and another 32 houses will come under water by the end of April. He said the water would also submerge the Diamond Jubilee School in Ayeenabad.
The three agencies active in the landslide area including FWO, Gilgit-Baltistan Power and Works Department and FOCUS are providing different statistics regarding the free board, which is the distance between the present water level in the lake and the present spillway point. However it is said that more than 95 feet of free board is still remaining.