Starvation threatens stranded people of Gais Valley

Farooq Ahmed

Gais is a remote eastern valley of Diamer district the lower and upper parts of which suffered heavily. Flood floods triggered by lightening swept away hundreds of houses, turning corps fields and orchards and gardens turned into barren land in the upper part of the valley. The poor families had to take shelter in the houses of their relatives. The floods also obliterated signs of life in the lower parts of the valley.

Life is completely paralysed and people are forced to leave the area to settle somewhere else as there is no food, water or even shelter over their heads. Unless government or other relief agencies come to their help, thousands of people who have lost their all and have no means of livelihood anymore will not be able to survive in Gais.

The suspension bridge which was swept away in the Indus flood has not yet been repaired to transport relief to the villagers who at great risk to their lives are using the pulley-trolley to go across. The bridge needed some repairs that the Public Works Department was attending to when the floods and lightning struck the valley. The bridge collapsed and was washed away by the floods. This has left over 2,000 inhabitants stranded in the valley without food or medical help.

Initially a few helicopter sorties brought in relief but these have been suspended since. The pedestrian bridge which the government had promised to build is nowhere in sight.

Situated on the other side of Karakoram Highway, the people of the valley travel to Chilas for their needs. The journey is very expensive as transporters are charging five times higher fares. Even the free relief goods are costing the people much because of the transport cost. Pregnant women and patients could not move nor can they be removed as there are no arrangements of safe passage.

“I saw a man getting his hands hurt while crossing over the other side of the river with the help of pulley; his wounds became more painful but he did not give up the struggle as he had to get his old father and a baby crossed over,” he narrated the ordeal of the people.

Complete at source: DAWN

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