HAVELIAN: A massive landslide has blocked the main artery in the Havelian tehsil of Abbottabad district, cutting off more than 50 villages from the rest of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.
According to police and residents, giant boulders rolled down a hill, blocking a perennial stream, Samundar Kattha. Fearing more landslides, at least 30 families have evacuated their homes in a village and moved to safer areas.
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A local representative from the Pakistan Peoples Party, Sardar Shamim Sheeraz, said the hill overlooking Poona Hill village in Nara union council had developed cracks at a couple of places after the October 26 earthquake. “Despite repeated complaints, the authorities did not take any preemptive measures,” he told The Express Tribune.
“On the night between Friday and Saturday, heavy boulders and tons of earth slid down the hill and not only blocked the sole road that connects the area with Havelian and Islamabad but also obstructed the flow of water in the Samundar Kattha,” he said.
As a result, a body of water, measuring over 600 square yards, has formed which is likely to swell rapidly if the blockage is not removed. However, he said, since the stream is several feet below the populated area, it does not expose the villages to any danger.
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According to Sheeraz, more than 250 families live on Poona hill out of which 30 have to move to the homes of their relatives.
“Villagers living close to Poona Hill and inhabitants of 50 other villages with a population of over 120,000 have to walk on hilly terrain for over two hours to catch a ride to Havelian.”
Hazara Commissioner Akbar Khan claimed that a team of engineers and machinery have been moved to Poona Hill to remove all obstacles from the road. The commissioner said that the route used by mine owners earlier has been levelled for the sake of villagers.
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“Although the route is difficult and time consuming, the administration has established it to mitigate the sufferings of villagers,” he said. According to him, the blockage from the stream will also be cleared very soon.
“The Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) and military authorities have also offered their support but right now things are being handled with available resources,” he added.
However, Aurangzeb Khan Nalotha, a Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) MPA from the area, told The Express Tribune that the provincial government has failed to even supply food items and tents to the affected villagers who had to evacuate their houses following the landslide.
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“More than 250 houses of the same village are currently at risk. Rainfall can trigger more landslides and aggravate things,” he said. Nalotha fears this may lead to an eventual shortage of food and medical supplies.
Nalotha disputed the Hazara commissioner’s claims about the alternative route, saying that no actual work had been started yet.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 23rd, 2015.
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