As the fissures in Naltar Power Project’s water reservoir widen, the Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) government has called in technical experts to help stop leakages.
To prepare for any eventuality, residents have alerted local youth to volunteer their services in case the wall is breached. Youth committees have been formed for swift action in case of emergency.
Water leakages have resulted in 21 hours of loadshedding in Gilgit, bringing life to a complete standstill.
“A team of experts from Islamabad will visit the site to stop the leakages,” an official in the water and power department said on Saturday. The authorities, however, had ruled out the possibility of an outburst, saying that the reservoir’s wall was strong enough to sustain water pressure. According to water and power executive engineer Hamid Hussain, leakage from the wall’s joints is normal during winters, as the wall contracts due to low temperature. But as the leakage increased over time, the government was forced to seek expert opinion after the initial denial.
Another official said the water level in the reservoir has been kept low as a precautionary measure to minimise pressure on the cracked wall.
The issue was highlighted when a group of residents informed reporters in Gilgit that over 70 families settled downstream risked being swept away in case of a breach.
Naltar Power Project , the biggest in G-B, supplies electricity to almost 90 per cent of the city’s population.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 22nd, 2012.