Dammed Hunza River to be lowered by 30 ft

KKH Repair Project to take 6 years

A pre disaster view of the submerged Shishkat-Gulmit Bridge that would remain sunk under the new plan. PT File Photo

ISLAMABAD, Dec 18:  China and Pakistan have agreed to work on lowering of water level in the dammed Hunza River. According to the Associated Press of Pakistan, the representatives of a Chinese Roads and Bridges Corporation and the Pakistan National Highways Authority have reached an agreement to partially drain the dammed river and restore the severed road connection between the two countries.

Complete restoration of the strategic Karakoram Highway is likely to take around six years and cost up to 275 million US dollars.

Partial drainage of the lake is expected to resurface a 15 kilometre stretch of the only land-route between the two nuclear power states. The remaining portions will have to be reconstructed.

APP has quoted a Pakistan official as saying that Six large, high-rise, bridges as well as 70 small bridges are to be constructed as part of the agreement signed today. It remains unclear whether the entire fund has been allocated for the lake affected parts of KKH or other regions too.

It is pertinent to note that 5 major bridges on the KKH had been caused to submerge in the 24 Kilometre dammed river. 2 suspension bridges were also caused to submerged, severing intra-village and inter-village travel highly difficult.

Thousands of acres of arable and other land will also be recovered as a result of the partial drainage of the lake, if achieved.

The decision is likely to generate mixed reaction from the affected people. While some will laud it as ‘something is better than nothing’, others are likely to criticize the government for failing to get the promised 30 meter (almost 100 ft) height reduction.

That the complete restoration of links is likely to take around six years is also thought to be a cause of concern for the people who have lost essential livelihood means due closure of the Karakoram Highway and devastation of property.

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  1. This is very good news.

    This scale of construction will create jobs and also skill development.

    I have few loud questions:
    Who will hold NDMA responsible for major disaster; there should be an inquiry against Gen Farooq
    While re-building KKH,I hope future landslides and GLOF,avalanches will be surveyed and addressed so in future such disaster do not happen.
    I strongly suggest world experts in landslides,GLOF etc of this region,like some Chinese,Dr Dave Petley ,Dr Ken Hewitt, NGO FOCUS etc should hold an international conference to study landslides of this area,otherwise similar disasters will keep happen due to global warming

  2. feet or meter?
    The article is titled
    “Dammed Hunza River to be lowered by 30 ft”
    and one of the last sentences about possible reactions of affected people is “…others are likely to criticize the government for failing to get the promised 30 meter (almost 100 ft) height reduction.”
    Maybe it is a typing error of your reporter and a following misinterpretation in the last cited sentence? Otherwise the ‘expected 15 km resufacing’ seems impossible for me…
    Can you (PT) please help me by clarifying if it really says “30 feet” in the agreement?

  3. I suspect that the bottom of the current channel at the top of the spillway consists of large slabs. If removal of the top 30 feet gets down to less consolidated strata, the water will wash out the remainder.

    As usual opportunities are being wasted. Low Winter water flow and level is an opportunity for exploratory drilling to determine the composition of what underlies the upper channel. Then a controlled blasting program could be designed to lower the channel, hopefully by stages.

    Leaving the lake at any level without first understanding in detail the composition of the material holding back the water leaves open the possibility that the dam will eventually fail at an unexpected time.

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