Sunday, May 23, 2010

Dangerous Hunza lake likely to cause huge damage..Special Edition

Women crying during a protest demonstration at Atta Abad lake

Ata Abad Lake rises with 6 feet from spillway

GILGIT: The landslide-generated Lake in Ata Abad is persistently rising with six-foot gap from the spillway, media reported Sunday.

The helicopter service is in progress to evacuate the affectees present on each bank of the Lake.

Only six feet are left above the water level for the Lake to outpour from the spillway amid overcast skies and intermittent showers here in the area.

The administration, holding the situation as highly hazardous, set May 25 as deadline for overflow from the Lake.

Meanwhile, Deputy commissioner Hunza Nagar, Zafar Waqar Taj due to spread of lake water in dale lang of Phaso and Hussaini, the over flow of water may take more time. He said the gape between spillway and water level has increased from 6 feet to 10 feet.

34 villages evacuated in Hunza
The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) on Saturday said that it had made all arrangements to control any critical situation that would emerge after releasing water from the spillway at the Attaabad Lake.

“While asking for making geological survey to remain alert in future, we have also made a brief analysis of losses suffered,” Director Operations NDMA Brig Sajid Naeem told media.

He said that more than 34 villages had been evacuated.

Army helicopters and troops have also been deployed in the affected zone to provide immediate relief to the people.

He said that the process of registration of people affected by the Attaabad Lake has been started in Gilgit and Hunza and necessary medicines handed over to the Gilgit-Baltistan government for providing medical facilities to the affected people.

Talking to a private news channel, the spokesman said that a number of control rooms had been set up to provide necessary information to the affected people. He said that 426 affected families comprising 3,198 persons had been registered in Hunzanagar.

The spokesman added that 62 families were living in the relief camps while 2,227 persons were staying with their relatives.

He said that 1,216 affected families comprising 10,124 persons of district Gilgit had been registered and 7,404 persons were living in camps while 2,950 were staying with their near and dear ones.

Brig Naeem said the Gilgit-Baltistan government was providing all possible help to the people living with their relatives.

About the level of water in the lake, the spokesman said that at the moment the level of water in the lake was 350 feet, which is 3.4 metres below the spillway. He said that if water level increases in the lake, the water would start to come out of the lake within the next three-four days. A control room established by the Army is effectively working in the affected areas and providing information to the people to meet any emergency situation that may emerge at Attaabad Lake.

Chitral route to be used as an alternate to KKH

The government was considering to use Chitral-Gilgit route as an altrnate to Karakuran Highway in order to prevent any disruption caused by outpour of Hunza lake water, sources said.

Source said that a briefing was given to the PM on this matter recently.

Source quoted PPP leader Syed Sardar Hussain as saying that the Mastuj bridge should be completed on emergency basis so that buses travel all the way between Gilgit- Chitral- Islamabad in a much shorter time and better environment than what they do on the KKH. He said minimal investment can open a safe alternate route between the capital and the Gilgit Baltistan.

Lake affectees call off protest after being assured of support

About 200 people displaced by the Attabad Lake called off the protest in which they were threatening to kill themselves when they were convinced that the government would address their demands in a week’s time.

The protests were sparked by Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani’s failure to announce a relief package during his visit on Friday. They were called off when DC Hunza, Zafar Taj held negotiations with the protestors and assured them that they would be compensated for their losses within a week.

“We are conditionally calling off the protest for one week but if the government does not listen to our grievances, we will resume it,” said one of the protestors.

People demanded compensation and provision of facilities in camps.

Moreover, another landslide took place on Saturday, about 80 kilometres (km) from Skardu in Shaingus. Several houses were destroyed and livestock killed. However, the extent of the damage could not be ascertained owing to the remoteness of the area.

Meanwhile, authorities said that water is likely to start overflowing from the lake by the 25th of this month, arrangements for which are in place, they added. People stranded due to the lake are being airlifted to safe areas.

The displaced people were expecting announcements of compensation from the prime minister. “Gilani only offered lip-service which disappointed us,” said one of the affectees amid anti-Pakistan Peoples Party slogans on Friday soon after the prime minister boarded his helicopter to fly back to Islamabad.

During his visit, Gilani said that the government will compensate people after a detail assessment of the damage. “If not now when will the government complete the assessment and release compensation to the affectees,” questioned a charged crowd in Ganish, the village beyond which government has restricted movement of people, declaring the area dangerous.

According to latest information, water is just over two metres short of overflowing from the lake. It is feared that the spillover would inundate more than 35 villages downstream. The flow of water from glaciers is continuously increasing the water level in the lake.

According to government sources, water inflow into the lake is 2,500 cusec while outflow is more than 200 cusec. The level of water in the 19-km long lake is rising by 3.8 feet a day.

GB students seek relief package

ABBOTTABAD: The students belonging to Gilgit-Baltistan Saturday staged protest demonstration outside the press club demanding a comprehensive relief package for the affected people of the natural disaster.

The protesters said the people displaced due to the lake formed after landslide in Hunza were waiting for relief from the government since long.

They said the natural disaster had destroyed the standing crops and orchards and rendered thousands of people homeless, but the government had failed to extend proper relief to the affected people.

They also criticised the prime minister for not announcing proper compensation to the affected people during his visit to Gilgit.

Our Peshawar Bureau adds: A team of senior doctors and representatives of various non-governmental organisations left for Hunza on Saturday to help the affectees.

Talking to The News, Aslam Marwat, administrator Hamara Foundation and Media Coordinator for Customs Healthcare Welfare Hospital in Lahore and Kawish Organisation for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Fata were taking the donation package worth Rs1.5 million that comprised food and medical aid for Hunza affectees.

The official said some of the doctors in the team included Dr Tahir Iqbal, Dr Ali Safdar, Dr Shakeela Khan and Dr Asif Mehmood Jah. He said the team would stay in Hunza for three days and set up medical camp there to distribute food and free medicines to the affectees.

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