As the Galiyat continue to receive heavy snowfall intermittently for the last over fifteen days, life in the hilly areas has come to a standstill as the main Nathiagali Road and several link roads have been completely blocked, disrupting surface travel, locals and the police said on Monday.
The picturesque valley also plunged in the grip of severe cold forcing residents to remain confined to their homes. Water and fuel shortages have worsened in remote areas where link roads are covered with three to four feet of snow. Surface link with Abbottabad has been severed.
Nathiagali police said all roads have been blocked suspending traffic on the main road from Nathiagali to Khera Gali. While Nathiagali-Bakot Road, Donga Gali Road, Khanspur Road and Riyala Road and the portion from Nathiagali to Namli Mera have been completely blocked for the last two weeks.
Sardar Younas, a resident of village Namli Maira, said they were experiencing the worst possible water shortage as water supply lines have either burst due to the cold or they are blocked. “Villagers are forced to travel great distances to fetch water.” He said some residents, who are trapped in their houses as the streets were completely covered with snow, have to melt snow to drink.
Sabir Gul, a resident of Ayubia, said people make arrangements much before winters but villagers cannot even cook food due to shortage of fuel since the residents of Galiyat are totally dependent on firewood.
Khalid Sardar a social activist from Nathiagali held the Frontier Highway Authority (FHA) responsible for the situation. “The FHA has awarded a Rs3 million-contract for clearing the snow, while Rs1 million was earmarked for spreading salt on the snow.” But he added that the roads remain blocked. “It is difficult for even pedestrians to walk on the snow.”
When approached for comments, an official of Galiyat Development Authority said there were two snow removal machines but one of them was out of order while the second was working to clear the main road throughout the day. The official said that efforts are under way to clear the link roads that have been blocked for several days.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 24th, 2012.