Authorities on Saturday set a new date to clear obstructions caused by landslides in the Attabad Lake at Hunza.
The spillways need to be blasted which in turn result in flashfloods due to the sudden release of water. The authorities, in an effort to minimise losses for the population living in low-lying areas, have sought time to make adequate preparations.
The district administration of Hunza Nagar made an announcement last week to blast the spillway on February 18, but put off the task till the 27th of this month.
“We have been informed by the home department about a change in date, with instructions to complete the preparations by the revised date,” Deputy Commissioner of Hunza Nagar, Burhan Afindi said.
Explosives will be used to blast the boulders currently obstructing the outflow of water though a spillway dug in 2010. Several unsuccessful attempts have been made in the past using controlled blasting to widen the spillway.
An official said that traffic on the Gilgit-Hunza portion of the Karakoram Highway would be stopped on that day. Authorities also warned residents settled downstream to avoid venturing to the riverside. Pakistan Red Crescent society (PRCS) has deputed a team of volunteers to assist the administration in case of an emergency.
“Assistant Director, Youth, Wajid Ali has been assigned the task of assisting rehabilitation work if something untoward happens,” said Safdar Ali, an official in the PRCS. He added that the team has been trained and equipped to deal with any emergency.
More than 25,000 people in Gojal were stuck after a massive landslide in January 2010 formed a natural dam in the Hunza River, creating a lake that consumed upstream villages as it expanded. The landslide also blocked the Karakoram Highway, a vital trade link connecting the region to China.
The army engineering department implemented a project when the lake formed. But locals have raised criticism, time and again demanding that the project be handed over to Chinese companies to provide prompt relief.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 19th, 2012.