President Asif Ali Zardari has ordered to expedite the realignment of a portion of the Karakoram Highway (KKH), for which funds have been provided by China.
The portion, along with many villages in Hunza Valley, was submerged during the formation of the artificial Attabad Lake triggered by a landslide in January last year.
The directives were issued at a meeting chaired by Zardari at the Presidency held on Tuesday to review the progress made so far over the decisions regarding the Attabad Lake disaster that were made during a meeting held in July last year.
Participants discussed the reconstruction of the KKH and the progress made on lowering water levels of the Attabad Lake through controlled blasting and mechanical excavation.
While briefing the meeting, Director-General of the Frontier Works Organisation (FWO) Maj-Gen Najibullah Khan said that work on widening the spillway commenced in October 2010. The FWO has completed the first phase of the project, which involved digging of the spillway up to 24 metres, while work on the second phase is currently under way.
The meeting was also informed that a proposal by China Reconstruction Bridges Corporation (CRBC) for the construction of a 13-kilometre road and the rehabilitation of 22 kilometres of an existing section of the KKH, by lowering water level of Attabad Lake, has been accepted. The National Highway Authority (NHA) has signed a contract with the CRBC.
The meeting was attended by Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, Defence Minister Ahmed Mukhtar, Finance Minister Abdul Hafeez Sheikh, Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, and other senior officials, as well as representatives of the Chinese embassy.
Glacial lake outburst damages 120 houses
A glacial lake outburst has damaged 120 houses in Talus village, Gilgit-Baltistan, the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) announced on Tuesday.
The NDMA said that there has been sufficient damage control and they are doing all that they can to facilitate the affected population.
Speaking to The Express Tribune, an official of the NDMA said that the authority acted immediately and managed to save lives, adding that further damage is not expected for the time being. “We are monitoring the situation daily,” the official said.
At the time of the crisis, NDMA immediately instructed authorities to provide all necessary relief and rescue services to the stricken population and also provided relief items to the Gilgit-Baltistan Disaster Management Authority (GBDMA) for distribution among victims. The district administration also started relief and rescue activities in the area.
NDMA had earlier issued warnings to areas across Pakistan that are vulnerable to floods and landslides. Due to the current monsoon, areas in Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa are most vulnerable to floods this year.
NDMA is maintaining a close liaison with its field tentacles and the Gilgit-Baltistan administration for the provision of additional relief/assistance required for the affectees.
Additional reporting by Maha Mussadaq in Islamabad
Published in The Express Tribune, August 3rd, 2011.