By Syed Tajdar Hussain
The unprotected hilly barren slopes of dry temperate eco region in Gilgit – Baltistan (GB) are major sites and source of soil erosion, landslides, flash flood and rock fall which causes flow of sediment, mud flow, clay, sand and gravel to lower catchments. The poor communities of the area are directly affected when it merges with water and contaminates the rivers, streams springs and lakes, which are starting place of disaster and posing serious threats to the natural resources on one hand and on the other damage infrastructure and also cause loss of life. These processes are emerging as issues in the entire mountainous regions of GB.
Attaabad disaster on January 04, 2010 is the most recent, unbelievable and unforgettable, example in history of Gilgit-Baltistan. Similar issues may also emerge in the times ahead if proper risk reduction and management plan are not put in place for the vulnerable slopes of areas like Miachar in Nagar valley.
The hazards including hydro and metrological due to climate changes increases heavy rains, untimed heavy snow fall, flash floods, droughts, clouds bursts and avalanches, ultimately increase the geological hazards which are means for land slide, increase turbidity in water sources, cause loss of agriculture land, destruction of shelters, water channels, water and sanitation systems. It also effects soil fertility, water quality in both surface and subsurface runoff and diminishes the social and economical benefits by increasing hardships for the communities living on the mountainous slopes
. Landslides mostly on susceptible slopes can occur due to gravity, moisture, earth failures can triggered by heavy rain, flood, earthquakes and other natural hazards and human induced hazards such as deforestation, overgrazing and ill managed mining etc. Most of the remotest villages of the region are not easily accessible and people usually use to go through pony tracks and small jeep able roads along the hilly terrains needed for disaster resilience. The barren slopes along these tracks are highly vulnerable to natural hazard risks. So far, no serious attempts have been undertaken to harness the livelihoods and precious resources for the economic well being of the local communities. Due to limited knowledge, the local people have been also benefits by haphazard using of existing limited natural resources on risky slope meadow to meet their needs of routine life.
Eventually slopes will get barren and cause more dangerous situation to hazards. These barren slopes can be again stabilized to prevent hazards risk, particularly landslides, surface runoff and gully formation through planting and sowing fast growing multipurpose native plants species like sea buckthorn, willow, popular, alfalfa, curl sock, wormseed and wormwood. This would control land slide and soil erosion on the vulnerable slopes and make to establish sod and stabilize slopes and will be productive indeed to lower scrub and examine vulnerability of the local people. To minimize the high hazards risk, an integrated approach and true partnership among local community and concerned departments required. In this way life of local people’s can be enhanced by putting small work at the present for the future well being. Planting of indigenous plants specie in the land sliding areas which can possibly reduced the flood hazards and perhaps establishes communities to live in a safe and healthy environment. Awareness about surrounding landscape is required to learn when and whether landslides and soil erosion occurred to take in time necessary action.
Construction of protective walls and developed enforce lands and community motivation to build their infrastructure away form the mouth of mountainous slopes can also safeguard from misfortune. The custodian departments can take lead role through support of the local community in mitigation measure and planting indigenous tree species to control hazards on vulnerable slopes.