Rains, floods damage road, crop fields, hotel in Passu and Shimshal




By Asif Sakhi

GOJAL: Recent heavy rains have wreaked havoc in Gojal, upper Hunza damaging roads, washing away crop fields and orchards.

The rains damaged Shimshal jeep road disconnecting the valley from rest of the world. Every year the road is damaged by rains and floods in river due to substandard work on the road.

Heavy rains, lake outbursts and glacier melting due to abnormal climate change also created flooding situation in rivers damaging crop fields, orchards, portion of a government office and a hotel in Passu.

Situated at the confluence of Shimshal River and Khunjerav River and surrounded by Passu Glacier and Batura glacier, the village has always been vulnerable to glacier outburst floods and monsoon floodings in rivers.

The Hunza river changed its course again and hit Janabad settlement, and government offices eroding a portion of IB office, a hotel and major chunk of the cultivated area.

People haplessly watched their land and orchards washed away by the flooding.

They complained about the indifference of GB Disaster Management Authority and other relevant organisations towards the situation as they are not taking any measures to stop erosion of land.

Met office in June had forewarned of dangerous conditions in parts of Gilgit-Baltistan owing to above normal rainfall and flooding in rivers.

A local social activist said that millions are allocated in GB budget every year for disaster management, construction of protective bunds and strengthening of river embankments. But he questioned where funds go?

Land erosion has become a permanent challenge to the authorities and the local people.

The scale of land erosion at Janabad new settlement of Passu during the last one year can be assessed from the two pictures taken in February 2018 and the other in 2019 and how rapidly erosion has taken place. The river is unpredictable and changes its course frequently.

Local people demanded of the representatives, the regional government and the relevant authorities (GBDMA, AKSH) to mitigate the loss through a collaborative and coordination efforts.
Over 50 per cent of the village once considered to be the godown of grains in the region has been washed away by the Hunza River since 1940s.
Batura Inn, one of the oldest hotels in the valley is under threat and the river has already washed away six rooms and more than hundred fruit trees.

People demanded compensation for the loss of their land, crops and trees.

Pakistan Met Department (PMD) had predicted that due to combination of rain with snowmelt by persistent high temperatures, there is high probability of GLOF/ flash flooding in potentially vulnerable areas of Chitral and moderate GLOF and flash flooding in vulnerable areas of Gilgit-Baltistan.

PMD has predicted more than normal rains in the country during the monsoon season this year.

Unlike the previous years’ wherein below average rain was recorded, this time it had predicted slightly above normal rains during first half by July and below normal during second half ending by August 15.

Asif Sakhi is a journalist and a left-wing political activists

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