Thu. May 6th, 2021

Violent glaciers and the hapless people of Gilgit-Baltistan

By Iftikhar Akhtar

Gilgit-Baltistan is one of country’s most vulnerable areas, when it comes to climate change. Gilgit-Baltistan, due to its geographical location, has been frequently affected by heavy monsoons in the past.

For many years we have observed extreme weather events in the region as heavy rains and violent floods have seriously affected the life and livelihood means of the locals to a great extent. The super fast changing climate’s devastating effects are persistently exhibited in Gilgit-Baltistan­­; the glaciers are melting fast and the violent torrents ruin villages and towns, every now and then.

Science has already confirmed Pakistan’s vulnerability to climatic extremes. Over the past 50 years, cold spells have been decreasing across the county wide. Another comprehensive study on future climatic extremes by researchers of the Global Change Impact Studies Centre (GCISC) shows the increasing risk in future extreme events in terms of intensity and frequency across Pakistan. The magnitude and frequency of temperature extremes is increasing – which may occur frequently in the future.

It is worthwhile to note that the temperature extremes are more devastating in the region. Recently a havoc flood destroyed each and every thing at Badh-Swad village of district Ghizer where more than thirty houses and a large number of their cultivable land have been flooded. Last night ferocious land sliding ruined number of villages as Sher Qila, Bargo, Jutal and many other villages in Baltistan region are badly affected ones. The hapless people are living as nomads. The People are helplessly waiting Gov,t for wounding their miseries but the heedless gov,t’s measurements are unsatisfactory. We are thankful to army for their support and helping of flooded people.

After 18th amendment, the subjects of environment have been delegated to provinces. Therefore it is dire need of time that provincial gov,t should take immediate steps to reduce this vulnerability. Gov,t should develop a climate-resilient infrastructure that can withstand unpredictable weather events. Some hard mitigation options could include: Climate resilient irrigation system; efficient water supply and sewage system; Upgrade water shed management; High-standard transportation system and Sustainable infrastructure. There is also some soft mitigation options could include: awareness raising activities; capacity building training for locals and through seminars and workshops; increase support for community and encourage role of media to creating awareness among the locals.

The writer is a student at KIPS. Email: aliumer2025@gmail.com

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