Volunteers start widening of the Hunza Lake spillway

A view of the spillway

PT Report

Aliabad/Gulmit/Gilgit, June 17 – Hundreds of volunteers belonging to different villages of Gojal Valley have reportedly reached the lake barrier in boats and started work for widening of the spillway.

Gilgit based residents of Gojal Valley had also reached Aliabad this morning to join the volunteers for widening of the spillway. They were joined by a large number of people from Central and lower Hunza.

A video grab showing Rehan Shah falling to the ground

According to reports the police forces tried to stop the volunteers from proceeding to the lake barrier because the lake barrier is not safe for human life. A tussle erupted between the protesters and the police and as a result an activist identified as Rehan Shah was reportedly injured due to police violence. The injured volunteer has been shifted to a nearby hospital and is said to be out of danger.

The defiant volunteers are reportedly moving towards the lake barrier to join those from Shishkat, Ayeenabad, Gulmit and other upstream villages who have started working there already.

The government has also reportedly allowed commercial boats to operate in the lake on experimental basis.

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  1. The impatience and mistrust is understandable, given the losses thus far and looming dangers ahead.

    While all non-indigenous technical (engineering) solutions did not solve the problem, that is controlled and faster release of water from the dam, it is not too late to let traditional wisdom contribute their bit. however having said that safety of the barefoot volunteers remains the first priority here.

    it would be advisable that the elected members and the organizing committee of barefoot volunteers sit and discuss how best they could apply their traditional knowledge without endangering the safety of the volunteers, stability of the dam.

    One option is to form a panel of 10-15 local experts (traditional Ustads and local engineers with knowledge of structural engineering and behaviour of such landslides and floods) from Hunza-Nagar and Gojal to team up and visit the site and assess what could be done.

    The local administration/police need to understand that it is NOT a law and order nor administrative coercive meansures could help heal the wounds. this is issue of life and death for the affectees and humanitarian and rights issue for others.

    The spirit and sacrifice of the volunteers should be appreciated and supported, as they have endangered their lives for the good of others. This is a noble cause. They need to be deployed in an organzied manner to avoid any backlash, rather then baton charging them and torturing them.

    The government should NOt act like Israelis attacking Freedom Flotilla and on aid workers and volunteers.

    Amin Beg

  2. Jeye hunzukutz….manas awajeee!!!!!gutaeee meee identity bela….
    Agar Pakistani government doroo ayatum memoo rajake atom ke donyat sesar hn misaal oossham shahd FWO bdal spilll way hunzukutze doro zhor aychumzee…
    Hunzukutz now we have a will……and we have a way…..god bless you!!!!
    Do n’t wait for NDMA..

  3. Well done Volunteers, your trust and patience lasted for NDMA and GB so called government actions, theses volunteers should be supported in every manner i.e. material, moral and technical so that this noble cause can be fruitful.

    InshahAllah the NDMA and GB Govt. will realize their mistakes and will come to be part of the saviors of Hunza, Gojal and Pakistan.

    Ameer Ali Alvi

  4. May Mawla save you all and succeed you in your noble mission, This is what was needed much earlier but we wrongly trusted on the pa pet government of GB and lost our beautiful Gojal. I am quite optimistic that the strong believe and dedication will successfully accomplish our task.
    Wish you all the best for your noble efforts and dedication and always pray for your safety and security- Ameen.
    “Himat he to paida kr firdose baren apna”
    “Mangi hgue janath se duzakh ka azab acha”…..

  5. The step taken by volunteers for widening the spillway is really appreciated. But safety measures should be taken, and they should go with proper planning with the help of local engineers. Our community/volunteers could have taken these steps before rather relying on government which caused damage not only to the upstream but will also affect downstream.

    We wish our volunteers all the best and our prayer are with you.

  6. The risk taken by the affectees and well wishers of Gojal is great,there is no second choice left for us.How long we will trust the “wait and see policy”.The efforts done by the affectees on their own will be written in Golden words in history of Gilgit Baltistan.
    I strongly suggest now time is over,we have to get rid of this man made disaster that came after a natural one. worried about the lives of downstream people and fogetting the peaceful inhabitants of Gojal who are caring the strategic borders of pakistan with China and Afghanistan.
    I strongly appreciate the mission for a cause,to save human lives from further disgrace and starvation.The suggestion by Amin Beg is very close to the aspiration of the affectees.Govt.have to keep in mind the grave situattion and act faster to avoid further damages to the beautiful valley of Gojal.

  7. One can fully understand,appreciate and sympathize with the feeling of the peoples.
    BUT the risk with what they are doing is significant and they should not put their lives at risk. There is landsliding taking place on near daily basis in Attabad and the volume of water in lake is very very large (over 500 million cubic meters)

    There is too much landslide debris to be moved and too large boulders to move.

    There will be large inflow of water from glacial melts in July and August and hopefully the water accumulated as lake will flow out (smoothly hopefully or God forbid rapidly).

    NDMA,local government and Council should talk with people and tell them to move out of the spillway for safety.

    FOCUS/NDMA and others should arrange a video conference of experts like Dr Dave Petley, some Chinese experts,World bank consultant who visit site, the Italian team who visit the site and NESPAK and discuss options for safe resolution of this crisis

  8. Interesting and very risky! what message this gives to us? I think this is straight forward message to Government how people react. The people of Hunza are not there to wait for Government and Miracles helps.

  9. Amin Beg is right in applying indigenous engineering, not because it is efficient than modern engineering but because the failure of modern institutions and engineers, not engineering, has left us nothing to rely opon. Amin perhaps this is a high time to start a debate at community level to explore ‘What went wrong?’ Only by soul searching about the failure to reduce gradual increase of risk we can be able to devise more effective ways of community mobilization and building capacities to deal with hazards. In this regard i have written about indigenous versus modern knowledge. I hope i would be able to share with you this weekend.
    The administration is a dog in the manger as it cannot do anything on the one hand, and not allowing communities to do on the other. What else is a choice except a collision course?

  10. It is way too risky, m scared to death… I wish the volunteers strength, success and safe return. Could they try some less risky strategy like blasting and stuff from distant?

  11. Mao was by a mountain digging for plain. People laughed at him, said he is a fool. One come upon him and asked, Foolish man will you cut this whole mountain.
    He replied, “If I will not able to do it completely, my son will, If he will not his son will, but one day this mountain will be a cultivated land.
    Geo mere Hunzu naojawan. Now every hunzaiee is Mao.

    One suggestion If we can repeat the blasting for the water channel in shisket in early 2004 I guess.

  12. Though dangerous but good decision in the end. We cannot wait for the inefficient government, as they have already made us suffer enough. This is a do or die situation. I hope to join the volunteers soon.

  13. We waited so long for the authorities to get it done, and they delaberately failed. Should our people have realized the incompetanace of the FWO and GB government they would have started wokring on it by themsilves. Imagine if our volunteers had started this manual work by themsilves two or three months earlier they would have saved alot.

    Mr. Amin Beg’s comment above is a reality which also came out very late. The NGO sector could have started mobilizing our community, to get them involved in using traditional methods while taking the GB government into confidence. That is how we see the role of NGOS.

    our own AKDN agencies at the moment look least intersted for unknown reasons.

  14. This is excellent news! I am so happy the people directly affected are getting together to act on the situation. Beyond politics there is strong human forces that make people join efforts.
    People in this region are familiar with rockslides along the KKH and have a long history of dealing with road building and earth moving. While one is digging, two are securing him with ropes. I have seen it in videos. Just because they are not holding diplomas in engineering, doesn’t mean they are stupid or will take foolish risks.
    May Allah inspire and protect them.

  15. A very COURAGEOUS MOVE by the volunteers! May God bless you all give you success in each step you are taking towards this noble cause. (Aameen)

  16. I salute the courageous volunteers of the effected area….its bit late but right decision at moment…….i like the technique the two person were handling with rope for safety measure and the one at the bottom were struggling to serve his best………….. the dead insects are still in deep sleep ……. the parasites are still thirsty for the last of blood drop of the innocent locals, some opportunist has played their role some are still in the game ……… HOPE HOPE HOPE theirs is hope n i am optimistic enough that we will come out of these…………………. May God bless us all and save our paradise. Ameen

  17. Things have been going worse day by day due to incompetencies of the Govt. Authorities a and Political Setup. A very Good and late response,but i think ‘ Daair Ahyaad Duroust Ahyaad’. As community we have a disciplined public, but due to continuous land slide and increase in the water inflow/outflow the volunteers working there with high risk. A more traditional way to work in such conditions really unmatchable. God Keep Them All Save and Sound, Give them the courage to cope with the conditions there. I 100% agree with Mr. Amin Baig for involving local experts . It will reduce the human effort and give efficient results if worked according to a Plan/ Home work.

    In contra to that this is need of the time that Volunteers from allover Hunza Join Hands together, Be United despite Political differences. All those who always prefer their love/ loyalties to political parties over their Home Land, Please Think about your thoughts otherwise time will never forgive you. Enough is Enough from our So Called Jiyalay’s, Be with the people of your area or be ready for you fate, Bcoz you have a Big contribution for the losses of Lands & Properties of People of Gojal.

    Respected Leaders of the devoted Volunteers Please take full precautionary measure for avoiding any God Forbid mishap. Govt. Representatives (AC, DC, Home Secretary and Police ) Stop threatening Peace loving people of Gojal, and obying orders of your lords(who are responsible for all losses) otherwise Things will be very hard for you there and you will be responsible for any Mishap.

  18. The people of Hunza, especially the people of Gojal are devested economically, emotionally and psychologically as a result of the negligence from the govt. It was really shocking to see the administraction manhandling the volunteers. Perhaps the people who are in the govt. and administration do not realize the gravity of the situation. That is why it appears that neither they are still undecided about the situtuation. The people who are trying to help themselves are really doing magnificent job. They need encouragement and support from all of us. And the people of Gojal are helping themselves. Don’t forget “God helps those who help themselves”.

  19. Enough now, to wait and watch.The situation has been worsening, in the mending of another huge threat.Authorities are awaiting d massive inflow till july! HATS off to our Valiant brothers for thier incredible courage.

  20. Its time to take action we visited the spill way with experts. our observation is its safe and sound widening the spill way is very easy task if we take some safety measures like ropes and life saving jackets. every one of us must appreciate and take the traditional method. Please be fair and think that economic condition is worse its time we transform our good thinking/suggestion into action so that we can solve our problem if we let everything on the government time will pass away and we will be helpless.

  21. Bravo volunteers! I appreciate your will power and josh walwala, but safety of lives is important. Without taking proper safety measures, it’s foolish to put lives into danger. I myself have the same experience of Mayoon slide disaster during 1977, and the danger task of digging water channel up to Hussainabad without a single casualty was possible and succeded. Keeping in view the area situation, safer or danger, multiple groups could be formed, i.e. three or five, one should be tied with trekking rope on back and allowed to work on the edge of the spillway and other two or four (again the area situation) should firmly hold and tie one corner of the rope with their back, firmly taking position on the ground and remain vigilant atleast at a distance of 10 to 20 feet. God forbid, in case of erosion from back side of the worker, the other two/four could easily pull the worker from falling into the spillway or river. Also for this practice, an iron bar (dangal in Shina/Burushaski) and showel (belcha) is enough. Again, in case of danger area, there are possibilities of falling boulders and stones on the workers. Some people (with 6×6 eyesight) shoud be assigned to keep an eye on the situation and on the sliding area, and alert the worker(s). Workers should be provided with halmet, thick loose clothes (if possible), second hand shoes (Western), easily available in the market and mask. So these are the precautionary measures, which I dared to share with our bravo Hunzakutz (Gojali, Burusho, Shinaki). Insha Allah this task could be completed and the spillway widened in a possible shortest time. Before starting the task, a pious man should call Narai Takbeer (Allaho Akbar) and Nade-Ali loudly and go ahead. Many thanks and prayers, Murtaza Mughal, Hussainabad, Hunza.

  22. Where is Hunza Action Comittee. where are the leaders, MQM Kamil Jan, must be busy with “Fish”. where is the black balt, Noor Mohad, must be busy with ploting a game.
    Wazir Baig should be their, where is Mutabiyath Shah, must be drafting some document against the anti-goverment people.

    what are the people doing in Karachi, lahore and Islamabad,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, All is done

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