The Attabad Lake was a minor issue as it could have been drained at the time of formation; however the lack of attention and flawed policies of the government worsened the situation for the people of the region. This was said by Standing Committee on Interior Chairman Talha Mehmood in Gilgit on Tuesday.
The lake was formed after a massive landslide at Attabad village in January 2010. More than 25,000 people in Gojal were stranded as the lake expanded, submerging villages and blocking the Karakoram Highway, a vital trade route to China. Frontier Works Organisation (FWO) was tasked with draining the lake; however the spillways dug by the FWO have proven to be ineffective, with several deadlines already passed.
And it appears it will be another nine months before the lake is drained, as assured by “concerned officials” to Senator Talha. The new deadline for the lake’s drainage is June 30, 2012, the senator said.
“We have been briefed about it in today’s meeting and hope it will be done in the stipulated time,” Mehmood told journalists, after he chaired a senate interior committee meeting in Gilgit.
The meeting was held in the Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) Scouts headquarters and attended by ANP senator Haji Adil, Dr Abdul Malik, Mir Hasil Khan Bazenjo, Gilgit-Baltistan’s chief secretary, home secretary, IGP and various senior government officials.
Senator Mahmood is on a two-day official visit to G-B to monitor the law and order situation in the region following the death of two protesters demanding compensation for Attabad landslide after police opened fire on them in August.
He said that the settlement of the lake issues would not only end the miseries of people stranded in Gojal but will also help increase trade with china via the Karakoram Highway.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 5th, 2011.
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Because of water flow, it will be too late to expand the spillway in the late Spring. The massive slabs forming the bottom of the spillway must be broken up, either by aerial bombing, or drilling and blasting. Once these slabs are broken up, erosion will finish the work very quickly. It would better to have the slabs fragmented by the end of winter to reduce the volume of water release when the dam gives way.
After seeing two seasons of inadequate efforts, it would be a most pleasant surprise to witness a competent effort.