Winter of discontent: Three times more snowfall in Galiyat this season

Several houses destroyed, road networks and fuel supply suspended.

Muhammad Sadaqat February 11, 2013
While the snow has compounded the problems of locals in most areas, some tourists are enjoying this change in weather. PHOTO: EXPRESS


Four days into another spell of snowfall and thousands of residents were stranded in their houses in the Galiyat area. Over a dozen mud houses caved in while still others have been partially damaged. Road networks were suspended, leading to a shortage of fuel and food in far flung localities.

According to the Met office, the recent spell of rain and snow that started last Sunday and ended on Wednesday, was three times the usual. The region usually receives three to four feet of snowfall every year but this time, it received a whopping six feet.

The increased snowfall has lifted the under-soil water table in the low-lying areas of Hazara, providing a large quantity of snow melt water for the reservoirs. Although this is a boon for the agriculture and municipal workers, it is a bane for the residents of the region.

Locals’ miseries

“Even though we are acclimatised to the harsh weather but delay in restoration of electricity and clearing the snow from the roads has compounded our problems,” Sardar Shamraiz, a school teacher at Badhar village, said.

He added that six houses were completely destroyed in Dongagali, Badhar, Malach and adjoining areas alone. In Bakot and Lora circle, the inmates to take refuge in the neighbouring houses.

All link roads that have three government agencies like Communication & Works, Frontier Highway Authority and Galiyat Development Authority (GDA) responsible of clearing them of snow and landslide, could not come for the rescue of villagers.

“My six-year-old son was down with high-grade fever and I had carry him in a cot, covering three kilometres on foot,” Raja Toheed of Namli Maira village, said. He added although the villagers keep a good stock of firewood and food items with for snowy days but the recent spell of heavy rain and snow forced them to exhaust their stocks.

Another problem the locals faced was to travel for three hours to reach Abbottabad via Kohala, Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Mansehra side as compared to one and half hour travel which it usually takes for reaching the district headquarters. The residents of Lora circle also faced travel and fuel problems due to heavy snow.

The Frontier Highway Authority that was mainly responsible for clearing the main Abbottabad-Nathiagali Road also failed to remove the snow as both of its bulldozers were reportedly out-of-order, forcing the district administration to seek help from the Murree district administration in clearing up the road.

Closure of the Abbottabad-Nathiagali Road also exposed dozens of tourists to problems. The stranded picnickers had to pay locals extra for helping them tow their vehicles with their jeeps by fastening iron chains around their tyres.

Meanwhile, GDA Director General Mushtaq Khan claimed that the main Abbottabad-Nathiagali and Nathiagali-Muree road were cleared for vehicles. He instructed that the concerned contractors to ensure the removal of snow

Tourists flocking Swat

Meanwhile thousands of tourists from across the country enjoyed the snowfall at popular picnic and adventure spots such as Malam Jabba, Miandam, Marghuzar and Sangar in Swat.

“There is no such thing as experiencing snowfall first hand. I’m loving it, Zahoor Elahi of Lahore, said.

Scores of enthusiast bikers had come from various parts of the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. “We came in groups as we had planned at the beginning of this month to visit Malam Jabba after snow. And that’s it we are here on bikes, we are here on snow,” Zahoor from Mardan, an enthusiastic bike rider told The Express Tribune.

The influx of tourists brought good business for the local shopkeepers and hoteliers. “I earned Rs2,700 today which will last me 20 days,” Shah Zareen, a tea shack owner, told The Express Tribune.

With additional input from our correspondent in Swat

Published in The Express Tribune, February 11th, 2013.


Mirza | 8 years ago | Reply

Fill those dams before complaining. This should take care of water and electricity shortage for a while. It should also be a blessing for winter crops.

upkamath aka prashanth | 8 years ago | Reply

-Global Warming!

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