[Pictory] Local Volunteers’ efforts to widen the Hunza Lake spillway


Images: Zulfiqar Ali Khan

HUNZA, June 17: Hundreds of local people have taken upon themselves a much-awaited task of widening the spillway of the Hunza lake amid protests in Aliabad town against police torture of volunteers leaving for the site.

The volunteers broke police barriers and reached the spillway, where they were joined by about 200 people from Gojal, who had arrived by boats.

The protesters condemned the police action against volunteers and blocked the Karakoram Highway for two hours.

They raised slogans against the Gilgit-Baltistan government, former chairman of the National Disaster Management Authority, Gen (retd) Farooq Ahmed Khan and former governor Qamar Zaman Kaira and accused them of destroying four settlements in Gojal. They called for a judicial inquiry against the authorities for lack of timely action.

They urged the government to facilitate volunteers in widening the spillway.

“We don’t have any political agenda and we are here to save our villages from further submersion, as the government is following a policy of wait and see, which is detrimental for Gojal tehsil,” a volunteer said.

They warned the government to stop international trade through the lake formed after submersion of their houses and belongings.

They alleged that the government had refused to run ferries for stranded people but was allowing it to Chinese smugglers.

They said the affected families were facing an uncertain future and the authorities had not yet taken any concrete step to help them.

The volunteers said hey would continue the work on a regular basis, using safe mechanical methods.

The helicopter service from Aliabad and Gojal remained suspended despite clear weather, increasing the problems of the stranded people.

The water level in the lake increased by two inches over the past 24 hours, while erosion around the spillway remained slow. The inflow on Thursday was 6,400 cusecs and outflow 6,350 Cusecs. DAWN

Related Articles


  1. this is what was supposed to be done from the very first day. now more and more volunteers must join this effort.

  2. Desperate is as desperate does.

    Sure there is some human assistance to widen the dam, but the impact is minimal as contrasted to the overall size of the dam. These workers cannot possibly do as much as the backhoes, but they do have the advantage of being able to use the water flow to help move materials, but the larger boulders are not going to be easy to move.

    It’s also unfortunate that the inflow is increasing faster than the outflow, so the water level will likely continue to rise.


  4. This is remarkable effort by our volunteers, we are proud of them. They have done and doing a great work, Govt should learn from them. I would like to thanks Pamirtimes for giving comprehensive and up to date reports about the situation. Praying for the safety of our volunteers, may God give them success in what they are doing and provide safety from his almighty blessings. Ameen

    Aktau KZ

  5. Very heroic indeed, our salutes to you but the problem is the lake and boulders are too gigantic to be played with bare hands. One can feel the desperation of the locals to go for such a brave move in the absence of governments proper timely response. The people should come forward, get organized, let their voices be heard by the nerds in government and NDMA for an in depth monitoring of the site get experts (like David Petley, who is constantly looking at the situation) opinion and look for possible options like controlled blasting, rather than making emotional decisions under pressure.


  6. Is an act of logic, bravery or collective suicide?

    World knows that this part of Pakistan is famous for its bravery and education. The people of this region has already lost their loved ones, homes, agricultural land, and beautiful orchards. But are they gonna loss more? There is a fine line between stupidity and bravery and it is evident from this act. No one is wearing at least a helmet or any kind buoyancy aid. Is an act of logic or bravery?

    1. The only source of income was cultivated land, its submerged. Homes that were build with love and savings through hardships are engulfed by water. Nothing is left, so what do expect from people now? Engineers have failed to do anything about this matter in fact they sit in their homes and make stupid comments and unrealistic technical methods which with the passage of time proved to be totally wrong. Why don’t we give a chance to our traditional methods which at the moment seems to be working well. Why don’t we join hands with the volunteers imagine if some dozens of volunteers can erode some parts of bank than how much difference we can make with hundred and thousands of Volunteers. Safety measures should be taken and it seems like they are doing their best with limited sources. And dear who will donate so many helmets to them? why not you should be the first one to do so? can you……. May Allah keep them safe and sound.

  7. An effort so heroic yet too risky ………….

    Whatever was there to be lost is already lost …………so why this effort against the cruel waves of the river, a race against the time and a cry in the wilderness…….

  8. Neither educated, nor a professional engineer, he feared some thing shocking and it just happened as every one is observing from Ayeenabad to Passu. He suggested, can we use water pumps (if possible from some where????) to reduce the height of the blockade………………. Every one laughed at him…… Cool! this had to happen; after all this was just a lay man’s idea… Then, again (some times during late January) this year he tried to convince his fellows, what if a (couple of hundred volunteers at least) go and show their presense at the blockade? almost half of the community members kept silent and the rest laughed at him in a central Jama’at Khana in Gojal.

    Do something different if you can but do not politicise such a burning issue at least at this stage. I do respect your ideas but please do not mess… enough is ehough. We are already facing an unbelievable disaster, please no more messsssss. thanks

  9. Very encouraging. If the volunteers had joined with FWO from the very inception, the situation of submerging of upstreams villages could been avoided and outflow of water would have started much earlier.

    The volunteer work should be continued until the water recedes totally from the submerged villages. However, the work seems to be very risky and the big boulders at the mouth of the spillway hindering the rapid outflow of water. The big boulders could only be broken by blasting to make the spillway deeper.

  10. Consider me nobody, but try this:
    Get land filling dredging equipment from Karachi Port Trust.
    It consists of one or more huge pumps and large piping that suck up mud/water mixture etc. from desired area and deposits it where required.
    Suck up the muck directly from underneath the “spillway. The boulders will keep falling lower and lower. However, other smaller material will be sucked away. The deepening of the spillway should not be far away.
    If desired, widening should also be possible the same way.

  11. I indeed salute to thes volunteers, who though acted belatedly, but” dair aied durust aied”. Alas, if we, would have had acted in the very begining, we would have been saved, Ayeenabad, Sheshket, Gulmit and Hussaini from this extent of damage. However, we must get togather even now, not in hundreds but in thousands to get rid of the lake. As it is just our pains, pangs and poignants, we feel and no body else could feel it to the extent we do.
    It is really splendid, marvellous and excellent efforts and initiations, rather waiting for some aliens to come to our rescue. And on the other side it is of unequivocal fact of Govt’s redtapism and indifference- we should not wait for that “wait and see phenomena”. We here in our position what we can do is raise sufficient amount of money for the Volunteers’ foods and essential tools. I offer a meagre amonut of Rs.200, 000.00 to this noble cause. I may request to the responsible person or any senior person of the volunteers to collect this amount from Mr. Hikayat Shah of Passu village for their immediate need of foods. I may request people from around the GB to come forward to assist these volunteers directly or indirectly in any form and aspect, so that these people could Save their Homes, Orchards, Farmlands, Livestocks – their very source of bread and butter.
    The main obstakle of lake discharge seems the big boulders at the mouth of the spillway, those are to be considered for detonation.

  12. we are proud of hunza gojal and now its not time its riskiy worke and not possibale

  13. Distruction of public properties, valueables and govt. offices could have been an easy task for this angry mob with their hand tools instead of the impossible task they opt for as it is the cluture we experienceing everywhere in the rest of Pakistan??
    Although it is not possible with barehands to remove or clear this huge blokade but a message to the authorities for their inability and criminal negligence in handling the disaster!

  14. Collective action for a common cause is one of the strengths of people up in the the mountains. Managing small scale disasters is those parts of the world by local people has remained the key obiligation for the human survival but Attaabad disaster and lake formation- 2nd in the row were expected to be manged by the govenment. The community mobilization by volunteers is demonstartion of people to do their part of the contribution. Surely they lack huge mechinary/explosives, tools and equipments to work with. Its good to know a team of knowledgeable people has initiated doing home work on finding indeginous solution/s which also should include mitigation to avoide human losses . I do agree with Amin Baig,s suggestion in getting together key stakeholders and resolving the common problem before it is too late.

  15. A big Sault to those brothers who participated for widen spillway on hunza lake. We request all youth to please join and save our motherland otherwise we will lose it.
    We condom police torture on our volunteers and warn the so called democratic government to avoid these shameful acts in future.

  16. Everything dosen,t need only physical or mental effort to be done but requires faith,belief and unity too. When there is unity, brotherhood and strength among people, there is nothing impossible. I personaly appreciate the step taken by the volunteers, and i am in favor of them. Although in every country when any kind of diasaster happens, the govt of that country is known to be the most responsible and helpful hand, But unfortunately in our country this concept is has been done negatively.Therefore we dont have any wish or demand from the present govt. We must fulfil our needs and wants by working together in such a manner. May GOD help our volunteers in every difficulty and keep them safe. Regards Nawaz Shimshali

  17. This effort shows how much we are united as a nation.From the Gilgit to Khyber Pass we are not more than a family who are commmited to help each other. Our unity and resolve will become our next key factor to rebuild ourselves. Government should be ashamed of this effort,it is very funny that they are imposing threats like 144 but they don’t know we are not people of FATA who will run away in fear of such things. Inshallah we will get justice and the true picture of what happened with us and the ignorance which we received on part of government.

  18. Not a professional approach , It should have done at initial stage ,now I think its useless.
    It think we should wait for the peak flow until the 15 August . Its now seems useless. Although I appreciate the concern of people, we should more focus on volunteering efforts towards helping the displaced people and keep our energies when will need them for the rehabilitation of displace people .
    There are multiple reason not to act like this :
    a) . there is already , a lot of land hanging over from Attabad , any event can trigger more landsliding and may cause precious looses of lives and may even block the river for COMPLETELY .

    b). Working on unstable ground , you know what can happen….

    c). These efforts WILL go in vain if we constantly confront Gov. agencies without no reason , YES without No reason . I think we should open our eyes and look up to reality, checkout the expert opinion like Dav, he is not suggesting any human interference at this stage. We need to deal with it in more sophisticated way and with COOPERATION with Gov. Yes with COOPERATION .

    d). Bcz of this stupid act (no offense ) , some other stupid people(e.g home secretary) are calling all the volunteers, anti – Pakistani , a stain on the image of volunteers. I have seen , people from Gojal in more assertive way. This will no way going to help us any way. As I know most of volunteer are ex-army men and have tremendous history of service.

    Simply , hey people , you cannot confront the nature ,show patience .
    with best wishes

Back to top button