Blame game continues as Attabad lake floods

Express May 12, 2010

GILGIT: Gilgit-Baltistan Chief Minister Mehdi Shah has blamed the PML-Q for the Attabad tragedy, saying that the party should be questioned for ignoring the issue when it first surfaced during its government.

The statement comes as the artificial lake in Attaabad area of Hunza submerges a huge portion of the strategic Karakorum Highway (KKH) and threatens several downstream villages. On January 4 a massive landslide had blocked the flow of the Hunza River, forming an artificial lake and submerging several villages and a huge portion of the KKH. At least 20 people were also killed in the tragedy. The artificial lake continues to expand, threatening several more downstream villages.

“The PML-Q should be questioned for the Attabad disaster which first surfaced in 2003 when the party was in power,” Chief Minister Shah said, adding that if the then government had taken steps on time, the tragedy could have been avoided. “We are in contact with the people of Hunza and Gojal,” he said, adding that nearby villages were not being evacuated. “It is too early to evacuate people from these villages,” he added. “They will be shifted to safe places only if it becomes necessary.”

The chief minister expressed satisfaction over the pace of relief activities in Gojal and Hunza Valley. “The situation is under control. People should not panic,” he said of the relief work at Attabad where the construction of a spillway is about to be completed. Chief Minister Shah said that they had adequate stock of medicines and ration to deal with an emergency-like situation. He once again ruled out the possibility of the lake suddenly bursting its banks. “Huge boulders buried under tons of mud will not let it happen,” he claimed.

Meanwhile a huge portion of the Karakoram Highway (KKH) near Gulmit Town was submerged on Wednesday after inflow of water increased in the Attabad artificial lake. FOCUS Pakistan, an agency of the Aga Khan Development Network, the Pakistan Army and the District Government are jointly monitoring the artificial lake on a daily basis. This according to a press release issued in Karachi on Wednesday. According to the monitoring team, the lake is now 320 feet deep and 17 kilomtres long.

Approximately 90 families of Ainabad and Shishkat villages have been displaced and hundreds of acres of agricultural land have been destroyed due to the lake. The lake has started submerging houses in Gulmit, the largest settlement and headquarters of Gojal tehsil, as the water level is rising fast. A family of six has been moved from this area to a safer location. This situation is also threatening more than 30 such families and other shops, small hotels, bank offices and other commercial offices in the area, which are expected to submerge in the lake in the next few weeks. A 20 kilometre long stretch of the Karakorum Highway between Gulmit, Ghulkin and Hussaini villages is also in danger of being submerged.

Modern electric sirens have been installed at potentially vulnerable locations in Hunza, Nagar and Gilgit district to immediately inform the local communities of any flooding risk caused by the overtopping of the lake. In some villages, megaphones have been distributed for early warning purposes. To assist the local population, all vulnerable areas of district Hunza, Nagar and Gilgit have been marked as red and green zones according to their respective levels of vulnerability.

Green zones are relatively safe locations at 60 metres above the river bed, as proposed by experts. Community stockpiles comprising tents, tarpaulins, blankets and other necessary items have also been established in safe havens by FOCUS Pakistan, to enable the communities to survive in an emergency situation.

Published in the Express Tribune, May 13th, 2010.


saleh | 14 years ago | Reply Hi dear readers , Don,t blame on polotician . it is a legal mafia here in North of pakistan. I wounder to just say that he she is our leader a polotician etc, in the past I wounder they could not briefly give a single statement of our rejoin to remaining part of pakistan even! if there is any single tv show by chance the y just discussed their own issues. why? please every one pray that the leadership will be go to any educated personality in the future .
zahid ullah khan | 14 years ago | Reply Dear People of Pakistan, this remained our national attitude to cry when a disaster is in its prime level.we i.e our leadership media and those who are responsible should have taken necessary measures when the incidet took place in Jan,2010. as we know that there were adequate machinary of CRBC China firm which reconstructs KKH,with the help of CRBC we could easily remove the landslide within months. now the blamegame starts among our leadership. Our leadership lacks courage to own any responsibality.Our National media is surrounded to Islamabad karachi,lahore Peshawar and Quetta. It has been 5 months since the landslide occured. where was Geo,ARy,AAj and so on channels. they are doing nothing just blackmailing people arround cities,luxury areas. we have witnessed that international media was there relporting from very beginning of the incident but our national media ignored. Now I will tell the people of paksitan that in Gilgit Baltistan we have trmandouse potential of Hydal power. it is estimated more than 50,000 MW Hydal power potential we have then why our PM,President and so called national leader raise this issue. why they are not try to buil several mega hydal project in Gilgit baltistan. they have no leisure to do such things.
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