Hunza lake frozen, water yet to be released
The approach followed in managing the Attabad landslide disaster was “wait and see” – basically wait for the lake to outburst, but it did not. If not all, some of the decision makers were ready to put the blame on nature and allow it to take its course for a second phase of disaster in a series in case of an abrupt outburst of the lake.
Initial thoughts of some of the high-ups suggested storing the lake water to meet energy needs without realising the universally accepted preconditions/specifications needed for man-made water reservoirs. Some key individuals suggested avoiding interventions and keeping the lake as a wetland to attract tourists without realising the potential costs of alternate road alignment (miles of rock cutting) and short lifespan of such lakes due to volumes of silting in these locations.
The impact of the Attabad disaster of January 4 on small farmers up in the Karakarom mountains included loss of livelihood means/family incomes and submerging of houses in the 28 km long lake. Besides abrupt damage to three villages with loss of human lives in Attabad and Sarat, the losses in four villages – Ayeenabad, Shishkat, Gulmit, part of Ghulkin and Hussaini were incremental over a period of months.
The pace of work, controversies in understanding the issues, accepting ownership, coordinating plans, moulding political perceptions, managing expectations and not meeting deadlines truly reflected mismanagement.
Currently, most IDPs are in the harsh climatic conditions with host families, some members have shifted to other towns staying with relatives in central Hunza, Gilgit, Rawalpindi and Karachi and yet waiting to be together once again in their villages.
A total of 21 villages with 25,000 population upstream Hunza River are, after a complete year, cutoff from rest of Pakistan through roads, and the people of the villages hit by the lake water are still hoping to get their land back in a fir enough condition to reclaim it again for the next harvests to feed themselves.
Complete at SOURCE
GILGIT: The emergency created by a massive landslide that struck Hunza’s Attabad village on January 4 last year refuses to subside.
Thousands living up and down the 23-kilometre-long lake are still under threat from the lake that was created by the landslide.
Many people in Gilgit-Baltistan believe that the Attabad Lake disaster is the biggest-ever calamity to have hit the region.
“It is such a big disaster that even the region’s history is silent about it [in shock],” says Farman Karim, who lost four of his family members in the disaster.
At least 20 people died in the landslide that blocked the Hunza River, creating a lake that gradually expanded 23 kilometres upstream, submerging four villages – Ainabad, Shishkat, Gulmit and Gulkin. The landslide also blocked the Karakoram Highway (KKH), a vital trade link to China, cutting off 26,000 people in Upper Hunza Valley, also known as Gojal Valley. The debris obstructed nearly three kilometres of the once fast-flowing river and a longer stretch of the highway.
As KKH came under water, the people of Gojal could travel down to Gilgit and the rest of Pakistan only by boats that sailed across the lake. But as temperatures dropped, boat rides became tougher.
“The journey via boats in winter in the frozen lake has been extremely precarious now and doing so is highly risky,” said Ali Ahmed. “But there is no alternative so what else can we do but risk our lives?”
While a number of families were cut off from other areas, many others had to vacate their homes for safer areas.
Ali Panah, a volunteer with the FOCUS Humanitarian Assistance group, said that about 120 families were still living in the Altit Camp in Hunza while nearly 50 had either taken refuge with their relatives in Gilgit or were living in rented houses in Hunza and Gilgit. “The biggest problem faced by them is lack of heating in such harsh winter,” Panah said. “None of the fuel provided by the Chinese government has been given to these Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs).”
Complete at SOURCE (Express Tribune)
Letter to Editor
A year on since January 4, 2010, the people of Upper Hunza are still braving the problems with no solution in sight to end the artificial lake formed at Attabad last year. The landslide that occurred in its aftermath caused irreparable loss to the area, submerged cultivable lands, eroded great part of the Karakoram Highway, squeezed the tourist inflow; in short all economic activities came to a grinding halt. The incumbent regime promised many things but most of them never materialised. It is true that the government was engulfed by the problems that arose due to the devastating floods, but the formation of a lake in Attabad is one of the worst blockades in the history, too.
The people of the area don’t want to live on donations and charity. They demand immediate action to end their predicament as the water has started turning into ice and there are reports of capsize of ferries. The boats will also come to a standstill when the lake freezes completely, leaving the dwellers of Upper Hunza disconnected from the rest of the country.
Source: The NEWS