by Zulfiqar Ali Khan
The lake has also started submerging the pillars of an under-construction bridge and a suspension bridge between Gulmit and Shishkat.
The lake has already consumed more than 75 houses, two community centres, a primary school, crop fields, trees and other properties in Shishkat and Ayeenabad.
Meanwhile, the Frontier Works Organisation is running short of time to release the lake water.
The FWO personnel are developing terraces on both sides of the block, rather than cutting it down to ensure the lake water is released early. According to reports of Focus Humanitarian Assistance Pakistan and Gilgit-Baltistan Works Department more than 65 feet height of the debris still remains for overflow of the water. This situation is further threatening more than 60 houses in Shishkat and Gulmit along with the market and offices in the commercial areas. The people of the affected areas have blamed FWO and National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) for the billion worth loss to the property of local community and the strategic Karakoram Highway due to lack of seriousness in early release of water.
They demanded of the government for an impartial probe against the authorities for negligence, downplaying the enormity of the danger and providing misleading information to the government and international agencies.
It may be recalled that the outgoing NDMA Chairman Gen (retd) Farooq Ahmed Khan had given three weeks deadline for the release of the lake water during his first visit to Shishkat and Gulmit in February.
The local people demanded of the government to take him to task for giving misleading information and not allowing international agencies to assist in draining out the lake water.
They said that statistics from independent sources rejected the official figures of excavation works at the disaster site.
According to Focus experts monitoring the lake, the inflow of Hunza River has reached 2,300 cusecs with more than 2.5 feet increase in the average daily water level in the lake. The more than 14 kilometres lake has gained a maximum depth of 305 feet.
The administrations of Gilgit and Hunza-Nagar districts have started to revisit and implement the evacuation plan for downstream areas, as according to experts the water level in the lake has reached critical stage. According to sources the administration has decided to close schools in Hunza-Nagar and Gilgit districts to deal with emergency situation that could arise any time due to overtopping of water or sudden outburst.
The administration has directed to safely remove the installations along the river banks in order to minimise the losses. The early removal of the belly bridge between Gilgit and Danyore has created problems to thousands of people in transportation of food and other items in heavy trucks.
It is worth mentioning here that the reports of international experts and Nespak have indicated the possibility of widespread devastation due to sudden lake outburst or erosion of debris after overtopping.SOURCE