Settlements in the low-lying areas of Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) are at a threat of being inundated due to increased level of water in the Gilgit River due to melting glaciers.
“The water level has almost reached our houses and [I fear] our house can be flooded anytime,” said Itamanullah, a resident of Chamogarh colony, a community of 20 houses.
The situation has also become dangerous in the low-lying areas of Ghizer valley, where an avalanche on Sunday swept away orchards and trees in Sost village, besides damaging the main highway connecting Gilgit with the Chitral valley of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.
According to the residents, the level of water in Hunza-Nagar, Astore and Diamer rivers has also gone to the upper limit. With more rains, this could spell disaster.
“The water level has risen drastically over the past one week as the rising temperature has intensified the melting of glaciers in the region,” said Shehzad Shigri, an official of the G-B Environmental Protection Agency.
The rising water has also flooded at least three houses in Hercho village of Astore valley, forcing residents to relocate to safer places. The houses in the low-lying areas of Baseen and Amphery localities are also vulnerable to floods, especially if it rains as much as predicted by the meteorological department.
The environment authorities in the region say they have prepared a pre-monsoon contingency plan and identified 100 vulnerable areas. They have also set up 27 committees in various vulnerable places to respond in case floods hit the region. In addition, they said that necessary stocks have also been transported to these areas to ensure timely replenishment of food and other items to meet emergencies.
A spokesperson in the chief minister secretariat on Tuesday said that G-B Chief Minister Mehdi Shah has conducted an aerial surveillance of the Sost village, overseeing the damage caused by the avalanche. Shah also asked authorities to take immediate measures to reach out to the affected communities, the spokesperson added.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 11th, 2012.
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