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

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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

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