by Kamran Ahmed Bari
In case of outburst of the deadly artificial lake, the consequences would be devastating for the downstream population right up to Tarbela Dam and settlements from Hunza Nager down to Hazara division.
The point to note is that the KKH and the river run parallel from Khunjerab down to Hazara. In case of outburst the KKH is feared to be obstructed and bridges on the KKH would be severely damaged. The worst case scenario would leave Pakistan completely disconnected through land route from China. With the KKH obstructed and the bridges damaged or collapsed, the settlements of Gojal would lose communication with Pakistan leading to food insecurity, health issues and economic slump on the local level.
As days pass and the weather becomes warmer and warmer at Gojal, the glaciers melt rapidly and frequency of GLOF’s increase, the water bomb becomes more and more perilous.
Some local experts are of the opinion that early use of powerful water pumps to ejaculate the water at the blockade site and subsequent start of work to make spill way across the debris could have saved Gojal from turning into a water bomb. As the situation deteriorates, the people are left in psychological trauma as they see their houses, properties, crops and plants getting submerged. Desperately they wonder why the authorities declared the disaster a minor issue in the first place. After outburst of the lake, will the people of Gojal survive along with remnants of their properties or would it be a desperate battle for survival?
As this goes to print 36 villages have been evacuated as water level touches the spillway. The authorities ignored the first disastrous episode and now watch the stupendous water bomb with consternation.
FOCUS Humanitarian Assistance which carries out regular disaster mitigation, geological survey and hazard measurement especially in the mountainous areas of Gilgit Baltistan in its report of 2006 identified a high risk of terrain movement and potential disaster but no preventive measures have been taken. FOCUS set up an early-warning system to alert villagers downstream in case the dam bursts.
Complete at DAWN