Raja Muhammad Sakhi
I conducted a research on Attaabad Lake, to study the “impacts of Attaabad Lake on the Socio-Economic conditions of district Hunza-Nagar”. This article shows how the formation of Attaabad Lake has affected the social and economic conditions of district Hunza-Nagar.
A set of 80 respondents were selected randomly from the Lower, Central and upper Hunza region through sampling techniques. Some of these respondents were affected while some were ordinary people. This study shows that there are many problems created due to the Attaabad Lake but some of the important problems are financial crisis, transportation, lack of infrastructures and mental sickness. Other findings shows that there are lack of boats at Attaabad Lake, lack of educational, community centers and health units, uncertainty about their future homes, food, clothing, education and economical opportunities. Attaabad Lake mostly effect their agriculture sector, livestock and also stopped their agricultural income which is the primary source of their earnings due to the destruction of Karakorum Highway (KKH).
After collecting and testing the data through cumulative frequency method shows that Attaabad Lake has stronger impact on the socio-economic condition of district Hunza-Nager. Attabad Lake had destroyed homes, land, forests, orchards and livestock of hundreds of families which created a financial crisis in the Hunza Valley. Also, the blockade of the KKH from Attaabad to Gulmit, which affect the imports and exports with China, has also created major economic crisis in the region.
Source of livelihood of the local people depends, mainly, on agriculture and secondly on trade through the KKH, across the Pak-China border. The damage to the KKH is substantial and it might take years to be rebuilt. The huge market for potato and apricot is in jeopardy, along with this that the essential goods and items from downstream to the upstream areas is nearly impossible as the only means of transportation is the boat service to the upstream villages. All these factors have caused a financial crisis in Hunza where people are unable to pay for their basic needs like food, shelters, cloths, health and education.
The people of Hunza are also facing the problems of transportation due to formation of Attaabad Lake. The Lake has destroyed a 27 KM stretch of the KKH, from Attaabad to Gulmit which also destroyed the two main bridges from Ayeenabad to Shishkat and from Shishkat to Gulmit. All these disasters led to blockade of land communication of upper parts of Hunza with rest of the country (Pakistan).
Secondly extension of Attaabad Lake submerged three villages and increasing of water day by day creating transportation problems. There are lacks of boat at Attaabad Lake which also causes the transportation problems for the people of upper Hunza. Boats available at Attaabad Lake are only usable for cargo purposes. These boats are used for the purpose of imports and exports of goods with china. These cargo boats also charge higher fare from the local people and sometimes cannot pick the local passengers from both ends.
The impact is not only financial or social but it has some psychological aspect to it as well. Internet and telephonic conversation with families have been a source of getting information about the disaster and its development on a daily basis. So with this little information of the area the students also make their own conclusions about the affects of the disaster. This disaster has somewhere also taken away their only hope to go back to their homes and areas, one day.
Amazingly most of people of Hunza are cherish a very strong desire to settle down in their own areas and now as they are asked to stay back, they are falling prey to serious mental depressions. The people of upper Hunza also realize the fact that this disaster is demolishing their identity as well; a land where they have spent their childhood may not be there anymore. The emotional attachment is huge which adds to the dilemma. Students from the nearer villages of the Attaabad disaster have shown their concern that they might not be able to carry on with their studies. As their homes are at risk and their families would become internal dispersed persons (IDPs). All these factors make effects on the minds of the people of upper Hunza which make mental sickness in them.
The people of upper Hunza are also uncertain about their future shelter, food, cloths, education and health. If these people are mentally disturbed then they cannot play their vital roles in the development of the area. Educational and health institutions are also affected by the Attaabad Lake. Attaabad Lake submerges three major villages of upper Hunza which destroyed the schools and other educational institutions. Similarly this disaster also destroyed the basic health units/centers in these three major villages. Attaabad Lake has destroyed schools, colleges and basic health units in upper Hunza.
Nearly fifteen hundred students were suffering their education due to submerge of the schools and college under the lake water. Similar the new born babies, old age people, female especially pregnant females are mostly suffering from basic health facilities. Due to the lake of maintanity facilities pregnant females from upper Hunza travelling the lower parts which is incontinences for them. After the analysis we find that Attaabad Lake has strongly impact on the socio-economic condition of district Hunza-Nager. But specially effects the agriculture income of the people which is their primary source of income.
The researcher has a degree of M.Sc. from the Department of Economics, National University of Modern Languages(NUML), Islamabad.
Download the complete study: Impact of Attaabad Lake on Hunza (Study Report)
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