Mon. Jun 21st, 2021

[Feature] The Not So Mysterious Case of the Floating Bottles

A very large amount of Alcohol is illegally being imported through the Karakuram Highway

Photographs Haider Ali 

Gilgit, November 14: The banks of the dammed Hunza River in the Gojal Valley and near Attabad spillway have been the center of trade and human activity for the past several years. Every day thousands of people travel through the lake in boats, coming from and going to the Gojal Valley. The exponential increase in the level of human activity has caused widespread pollution in the region, as people defecate openly, or throw trash inside the lake and on its banks.

You can check our earlier report about open defecation in the surrounding areas

Over a period of several years, the amount of pollution in the area has increased immensely, despite of cleanliness drives launched by the local Scouts and Volunteers. According to conservative estimates, several hundreds of kilograms of trash can be found in the lake surroundings.

The Alcohol Bottles in the Trash 

It is interesting to note that used bottles of Alcohol, illegally imported from China, is one of the most visible trash items around the dammed river. This is despite of the fact that there is an official ban on the import of liquor into the Pakistani territory.

It has been learnt that Chinese drivers and workers of the Chinese construction companies operating in the region are allowed to bring Alcohol for personal use only. However, in reality, Alcohol imported from China is being sold and consumed at a massive level, even by underage youth. This negative social trend has turned into a cause of several health hazards, apart from loss of hard-earned money.

A very large amount of Alcohol is illegally being imported through the Karakuram Highway
A very large amount of Alcohol is illegally being imported through the Karakuram Highway. Photo: Haider Ali
There are several cases in which young people have become Alcoholic
There are several cases in which young people have become Alcoholic. Photo: Haider Ali
There is no system in place at the government level to ensure cleanliness of the lake area, a lacking which turns a potential tourist resort into a polluted eye-sour
There is no system in place at the government level to ensure cleanliness of the lake area, a lacking which turns a potential tourist resort into a polluted eye-sour

There are reports that Alcohol illegally imported from China is also highly popular in almost all cities and towns of the Gilgit-Baltsitan region. The cheaply available, hazardous, liquor is being allowed to spread throughout the region, in complete violation of the law of the land.

The police and other law enforcing authorities are silent spectators, at best, of directly involved in the Alcohol trade. Photo: Haider Ali
The police and other law enforcing authorities are silent spectators, at best, of directly involved in the Alcohol trade. Photo: Haider Ali

Several families in the region have been devastated due to the negative impact of the massive consumption of Alcohol, which is neither checked for quality, nor for the potential health hazards. The Anti-Narcotics Force seems to be unmoved by the gory tales of young people being affected by Alcohol abuse and other drug addictions.

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