Masses stranded in Golain valley Chitral, as roads and bridges are washed away

By Gul Hamaad Farooqi

CHITRAL: Hundreds of people have been stranded in Golain valley of Chitral due to disruption of road netowrks. The road to the Golain, a popular tourist destination, has been blocked  for the last two weeks due to collapse of bridges and destruction of road, causing severe food shortage in the valley.

The tourist spot  of Gulen Valley has been badly affected due to recent rains and continuous flooding  as well as by GLOF event. Some 15 houses were cmpletely destroyed while 40 were partially damaged. Due to floods, the road to Bermogh, Astoor and Jangal villages has also been cut for the last 15 days. 100 families of Gujjar community have also been affected in the hilly pastures beyond the forest, but they have not been contacted yet due to lack of access.

The local people have made a temporary swing bridge  with of rope and wooden pieces on self help basis  but it is also very dangerous. The affected people are suffering from extreme mental stress and fear and spend the night under  the open sky by keeping their belongings under the open sky. The affected people say that their lives and property are in danger and they no longer want to stay here.

Elderly people of the area said that the region has faced major floods in 1930, 1946 and 1977 but the scale of destruction is unprecedented. The locals said that major reason behind the recent flooding is a dam construted by WADPA to feed the 107 Megawatt Golain Hydroelectric power plant. They said that the area became destablized due to movement of heavy machinery and now there are floods and landslides routinely in the region.

Women and children of the area are also very scared due to the flooding. The women say that they should be shifted to a safe place because now their lives and property are not safe here.

Our correspondent visited this valley and had to cross a very dangerous rope bridge into the flood water. On his way to last village of Golain the path was clear beneath  a Mosque, but when he came back, the flood water was flowing inside the Mosque and in a few hours the Mosque was also damaged by flood. 

Women, children and elderly people whose houses were destroyed in the valley have taken shelter in a local graveyard which is on a little higher  from the river. These women said that here they are afraid of scorpions, snakes and other insects.

Two mosques were also ruined  due to flash  floods in this valley. The imam in front of the Mosque told our correspondent that now there is no place left even to pray in congregation. 

The road to the valley is completely blocked for all types of traffic due to destruction of the road and 3 bridges. People are compelled to carry food and drinking water on their shoulders and backs  for many kilometers away. The victims say that if their communication system remains disconnected, there is a fear that they will not have anything to eat and drink. Even now these people are forced to live a very poor life. It is fear that these affected people may face starvation. The people whose houses were destroyed by the flood still have their belongings stuck under the debris but cannot get them out. These homeless people have kept their belongings in high places and often in these relief camps, children were also seen who lived by eating corn stalks due to shortage of food.

The affected people demanded from the government agencies to relocate them to a safe place and give them land equal to their land.

 They also demanded for immediate compensation so as to reconstruct their damaged houses before winter season. so that these people do not suffer from hunger and thirst and sever cold weather. A woman was sitting in the relief camp whose eye was injured by driftwood during the flood when she was running to save her life. She was injured after hitting her, but she could not go to the hospital due to no access and damaging of road. There are also many heart patients who have run out of medicines and the patients are unable to go to the hospitals as land connectivity is cut off.

It should be noted that due to the recent rains and continuous floods in the Golain valley, the road and three bridges of the valley have washed away due to which these people are disconnected from other parts of the country but also from Chitral and many people have to walk several kilometres by feet  to carry  edible things, food items and drinking water as the main pipeline of drinking and irrigation water  also damaged by flood

This area also hit by GLOF (Glacial Lake outburst flood) a few years back and Mrs Haleem Khan sister of former Prime minister Imran Khan also had strained in flood who was rescued by helicopter which tried three times for landing. As well as the area had damaged by flash flood due to GLOF event and total infrastructures had been ruined.  

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