The water bomb!

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

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  1. Very good article, it captures the situation well.

    The author has rightly mentioned the excellent work that FOCUS Humanitarian Assistance Pakistan has been doing in GB province. May we request FOCUS and GBDMA to hold an International conference on Landslides/Avalanches,GLOF hazards in GB province and then draw up long term plans to make the communities resilient to natural disaster. Gen Nadeem the present Chairman sb of NDMA is doing very good work and NDMA can also be one of the sponsors of the above suggested International conference which can have experts like Dr Dave Petley, Dr Ken Hewitt etc as key speakers.

    Next 48 hours are crucial for people of GB province and even our brothers/sisters of PK province.

    May Allah protect us all. ameen

  2. Dear Kamran,
    Very true and done great job in gulmit and there as well

    Rehmat Karim

  3. Very good piece of article vividly presenting the threats posed by the Attabad lake and the issues that would raise as a result of bursting of the lake. the leaders failed to tackle the disaster initially and now it is the people who will pay for the negligence of the leaders.
    God Save Gojal

  4. Our paradise is ruined, my heart is full of tears for my people. We are helpless but fighting resiliently with a deadly disaster.
    The government literally showed that it doesn’t cares for the people of Gojal. Their carelessness turned a controllable disaster into a water bomb that has threatened the whole of Pakistan.

  5. The situation is horrifying and I am amazed at the Govt’s attitude towards it. This should have been a problem on the high priority. Months have been passed and still the people face the same danger.

  6. Dear Kamran,
    You have made an excellent depiction of the disaster that has made water bomb out of our paradise Gojal. Your contribution is remarkable throughout the disaster period. I will call it a man made disaster because it was underestimated by the government. God will never forgive those responsible for it.

    CAN YOU PLEASE PT. Make on more Step. Could You please put under Heading on daily basis the no of days since the 4th jan.
    Can you calculate the Ticking in puting the nos of days on bold since the first day this disasters happend?Can you please put the days to show to the outside World Since this disaster happend untill today how many days passed,So We all know around the World that, Ticking Clock is Running and days are passed but our Govt Officials the real culprits purposely dint help people of Gojal and Hunza?

    Lets See the next Episode of the Down Stream

    I personaly request PT to put the no of days on daily basis under the Title Ticking Water bom from Hunza.
    Let the govt of Pakistan now face the Cosequence for their negligence and un faithful help for our Gojal and Hunza People. Let the World know that its Alarming ?this is just a suggestion if You can put daily The no of days passed and no of days passing,
    Only You can do is only put the nos…..Every day like how many days passed?Let the Stupid Criminal minds officials learn their Mistakes

    Thanks for that


  8. Dear Kamran

    You have written a very comprehensive artical and i hope you will write continiously.


  9. Nice effort by Mr.Bari. it is the intellectual way to bring the issue to the lemlight.
    It is the time now to come up with a unified strategy to claim the compansation from the governement. Only ciriticising the govt. wont work now. the people of hunza should stand united in this hard time and raise their voice to claim the compensation. hunza is a small valley and people are already in minority, sub divisions with in hunza cant be affordable. insteaded of being lower , centeral and upper classifications, the people should realize fact of the day and unit on a single plate form becouse it is an issue of the whole hunza. People of hunza including nagar are one and they need to ramin one. It is the time to demonstrate the unity, that is need of the day.

  10. I would rather say its all one sided article depicting only the threats caused by unknown water bomb which is supposed to happen in somewhere future. Look at the spillway and amount of Debris hindering the sudden flow. It is quiet obvious that the gradual outflow of water will widen the spillway with passage of time.The greatest threat is what if the spill way don’t wash away the huge amount of debris in that case the lake to some extent will empty mass of water but a part of lake will remain there forever. if this happens the submerged land of Shiskat and other land belonging to adjoining villages will never be able to see sunlight again. And for God’s sake we live in Pakistan how come we can expect this much advance technology to pull up all that water over the barrier, not to mention the amount of cusecs of water inflow and the motor’s capacity. Only a gigantic motor can do this stunt which apparently don’t seem to be around in at least any part of GB. Please don’t hype the situation. If you can predict bad,,,you can also predict good because anything can happen in this case.

    1. THE SEVERN TUNNEL 1883: South Wales and Bristol and the south-west of England.
      One of the Longest Under-water Tunnels in the World. A DISASTROUS FLOOD occurred on the night of October 17, 1883. The minimum quantity of water then pumped out was calculated at 23,000,000 gallons a day, and the maximum at about 30,000,000 gallons (with two pumping engines). Such a vast volume was sufficient to form in a year a lake 1,000 acres in extent and 30 ft. deep. The total amount of water raised during the time the tunnel was under construction has been computed to equal a lake three miles square and 30 ft. deep.

      That was to far a story of some place so far of the 18th century, now let’s take an example of our place. The Chinese working on the construction of bridge at Gulmit used motor pumps to divert the river according to their convenience and to adapt to their need of work. It was a matter of mere common sense in the first place to use motor pumps to eject the water from the Attabad lake, since the water inflow at that time was very little. Use of water pumps from the start could have saved more time for FWO to carry on making a spill way and at least Gulmit could have been saved.

      In the 18th sentury the English used water pumps to eject 23,000,000 to 30,000,000 gallons of water a day. Now consider if the same was adopted to eject water out of the attabad lake, suppose 20,000,000 galloons of water if ejected daily over three mo0nths period:

      20,000,000 * 30 = 600000000 could have been ejected on a monthly basis with two pumping engines

      Just image how much could have been ejected in three months, if let say three or four pumping engines were engaged.

      Prompt use of pumping engines, if exploited, could have saved many damages and allowed more time and less threat to make a spill way. It could also have saved the KKH from getting submerged.

      The question to ponder is: Are we still living in the 17th century, though the English used their common sense in 18th century. We are in the 21st century, but sadly we are still unable to adopt simple and cost effective technologies.

  11. Indeed, the landslide at Atta Abad is inserting its un-washable impacts on our socio-economic life of Hunza either they are residing at upstream or at downstream side.
    Regarding over flow situation, there are multi dimensional views, forecasts, opinions and recommendations are being circulating in the market developing an extra ordinary panic among the masses of the Hunza significantly residing at downstream. Some of these theories are self derived, some are extraction / further addition to specialist opinion and some of views are based on media speculations either it’s Govt. owned media or private sector media. The end result of all these derivations and theories are developing confusions, panic among the people who are living within the country or abroad. It’s extremely important that the authentic specialist opinion must be brought under consideration and we should avoid self derived or eccentric speculations.
    In line with the Dr. David Petley’s assessment report and my professional opinion, the blockage stuff is composed of randomly filled material i-e variable sizes of boulders, rock fragments, granular fill and clay/sand fill. The formation width of embankment approximately 900 meters with appropriate natural slope on upstream and downstream side, which will obstruct in prompt out-burst based on over flow.
    It is clear that erosion accompanying the drainage through the newly constructed spillway will be a critical factor. Pre-existing active seepage through internal channels is expected to grow, enhancing internal erosion. Likewise, collapsing and internal land sliding during the flow of water in spillway cannot be ruled out. Whereas failure is imminent, the time involved in complete failure is difficult to be established.
    On the other hand, it’s also extremely impartment that we need to keep awaken the Govt. putting more pressure upon him and keep asking for more counter measures for the post over flow scenario.

  12. Dear Readers !

    I feel little concern about of some good/great minds of Gojal ‘s silance about this lake issue. like Fazal Amin Baig and Amin Baig Sahib.I think they have good idea about this issue.I request them please come forward and share their idea how we can turn this disaster into an oppertunity.

    Although we have enough critisized govt and each other.

  13. Good efforts Kamran..keep it up..
    Here I must said that this is a men made water bomb and we will sue the responsible figures in court of law very soon….
    It will be better to say here…:DEMOCRACY IS THE BEST REVENGE”…BUT why this revenge from people of Gojal…???? we will never forgive all those responsible persons and we will prove that this disaster is a game for the purpose of corruption..

  14. Dear Kamran,
    Good initiatives, keep it up.
    I think this water bomb will chose the date of 28th May or before 30th May for explosion, like our atomic tests of May 28, 1998. lets see how it explode.


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