Dr Shahid Siddiqi
The Gojal disaster has multiple dimensions: economic, educational, health, and psychological. The lack of communication, with the exception of obsolete and risky boats, has led to a number of economic problems. The submersion of 15 kilometres of the Karakoram Highway has brought to a halt trade activities through this route. The estimated volume of border trade ranges from Rs 4 to 5 billion. There is a serious dearth of food, fuel, gas and wood. The supply of necessary commodities is limited and insufficient. Approximately 15,000 kanals of land in Aeenabad, Shishkat, and Gulmit are underwater now. Most of this land was cultivatable. Thousands of domestic trees have been uprooted lending a hard blow to the economic means of the local inhabitants where 90 percent rely on farming. The buying power of the common people has gone down, as the prices have been hiked up and economic resources are dwindling. The sowing of the potato cash crop, which is the major source of subsistence for local farmers, has been jeopardised in the wake of flooded fields, broken communication means, shortage of seeds and fertilisers and highly uncertain future prospects.
The disaster has an educational dimension as well. Hunza is known for its very high literacy rate — about 80 percent — as parents consider the education of their children to be their biggest investment. A number of schools have now been destroyed or declared unsafe, leading to the displacement of a large number of students. Quite a few parents, because of the economic crunch, are unable to pay the fees for their children. The schools have been closed down, as they would be used as potential camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs).
Complete at SOURCE