Protesters in Hunza demand widening of the spillway

Two more houses were dismantled while dozens are at risk of submergence due to increasing water level in the lake. Zulfiqar

By Zulfiqar Ali Khan

HUNZA, June 14: Hundreds of stranded people from Gojal valley held a protest rally in Aliabad here on Monday seeking resumption of boat service to ferry them to their areas.

They marched towards the Attabad disaster site and demanded resumption of the boat service. They returned back on the assurance of the local administration to ensure helicopter and boat service for them.

They also demanded immediate action to widen the spillway of the lake formed on Hunza River by January 4 landslide at Attabad to ensure the release of water from the lake.

Hundreds of people are stranded in Hunza due to which the committees of the affected people of Gojal tehsil have decided to mobilise the people of Gilgit-Baltistan in widening the spillway on self-help basis as the government lacks interest in the matter.

The committees in their meetings held in Aliabad Hunza and Gilgit blamed the authorities for causing huge loss to the people and their properties.

“Safe and controlled explosion and mechanical methods could be used rather to wait and see the situation to further worsen,” the locals said. The committees have also decided to seek the support of people from central Hunza and Nagar in this regard.

Meanwhile, the water level has crept up about 14 inches since the release of water through the spillway on May 29.

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  1. Rightly so, waiting and watching in the hour of crises is a crime. Well, for our politicians and administrative authorities committing crime is never a new phenomenon, but we should now raise up and declare that we will no more be part of this crime. let’s join hands and widen the spillway manually.

  2. “Safe and controlled explosion and mechanical methods could be used rather to wait and see the situation to further worsen,” the locals said.
    Now it looks like that the lake will remain as it is. the water will keep on flowing as per the width of the spillway which will keep on widening slowly.
    Locals are right we should try to blast out a few big boulders, hindering the erosion and pressurized water should be thrown on the banks of the spillway with the help of motors to widen the path of the spillway. This water will remove the fine particles and will provide the solution in such a way that the inflow should be equal to the outflow. Even if the outflow increase as compate to inflow, it will reduce the level of lake compatatively, the local people should accept this lake and should be planning to live with it.
    The main reason is that, the spillway is full of boulders and stones in a stretch of about 1.3 KM which can not be removed up to the depth of original level, not with flowing river water not with artificial means.
    Please consider this option of using the availablle river water to widen the path of the spillway.

  3. Yes, There should be some immediate action to drain the water of the lake as things will be more worse if it continues as it is.
    May Allah help and protect people there. Wish a happy returning back to their homes very soon.

  4. It makes me so sad to see fruit trees being submerged as in the photo of a cherry tree above. I don’t know how long a tree can be completely submerged in water and revive once the water is gone. I sincerely hope all orchards will bloom and bear fruit again.

    I also think it is a very good idea for the villagers affected by the flood to convene and decide what to do on their own, and do it.

    It is so frustrating to depend on the government for anything. Helicopter service can serve only a minimal number of persons needing transportation. So yes, villagers should resume boat transportation at their own risk, and put their fate in the hands of Allah.

    And blasting the boulders that block the spillway could have another useful effect in the area: it would be to force unstable land and rock that keeps sliding down, to come down for good, and afterwards the small landslides will stop and everybody will be allowed to stop worrying.

    Even though it’s a beautiful sight, this lake must be drained completely so the villagers can go back to their land and homes. I don’t think it would be a good tourist spot due to the fact that the mountains surrounding the lake are very steep and provide no place for building.

    If boat service resumes I hope Zulfiqar Ali Khan will film the activity because it is very interesting to see how vehicles are loaded and offloaded on boats, and the traffic in goods and the transportation of people, all of this is very interesting and of historical value.

    My best wishes to all.

  5. Fayaz, thanks for your concern and suggestion. If there is a willing to listen and look for options then suggestions lead to workable solutions. The very structure of the concern disaster magt is queationabale! I am skeptical, if the concern daparments have the right people/ expertises to manage such disasters. Wait and see stategy resulted in loss of physical infrastructure – bridges, KKH and livelihood means of the population which were created over the past decades with huge investment. Quickly getting together experts and leting them decide about the course of action would be most desireable before it becomes a third disaster in a row.

  6. There lies the answer. The boulders siting at the spillway crown are obstructing the free flow of water from the lake. This has to to be dislodged. Ideally the concerned authorities of GB Government should do it; if not the affected people. The Government perhaps will not do for fear of flash flooding from the lake and resultant inundation downstream.

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