PESHAWAR: The recent glacial lake outburst flood in Chitral’s Golain valley caused the Rs329.97 billion damage to infrastructure and public property and affected more than 100,000 people, says the initial assessment.

The Glof occurred on the evening of July 7 when a glacial lake in Ragheli area wiped out everything, which came in its way down the valley.

Located around 21 kilometers northeast of the district headquarters, the Golain valley has a population of over 4,000.

A damage assessment report submitted by Chitral’s district administration to the relief, rehabilitation and settlement department shows the risks facing mountains communities due to climate change.

The report declared that the mountains perched high over eight small hamlets of the valley had 53 glaciers, which had developed nine lakes over 261,735sq meters.

Dept seeks funds for early restoration of services

It added that at least two lakes were potentially dangerous for Glof.

The Rogheli Gol glacier from where the flood erupted consists of Khundar, Hongyak Gol, Kakeli and Payosadar glaciers, which feed two glacial lakes located 21 kilometers downward.

The report said the vulnerability of Golain to natural disasters primarily stemmed from the presence of a large number of glaciers and glacial lakes in the valley.

“A minor flood in Golain stream can easily destroy the only link road located on the edge of the stream,” it said.

The report said though valley had been prone to natural disasters due to its difficult terrain, the recent Glof had emerged as a potential threat to public life and property in the valley.

The outburst flood affected more than 4,000 people directly, while 98,000 people across the districts were affected by the destruction of water schemes originating from Golain Gol stream and damage to water intake for the major hydroelectric power station.

It also destroyed several bridges and washed away large swathes of road, which is the valley’s only link with the rest of the district.

At least 10 houses were destroyed completely, while 40 others were partially damaged.

More than 10 kilometers long valley roads were washed away, while four bridges were damaged.

The raging torrents also damaged water intake of 108 megawatts Golain Gol hydroelectric station, disrupting power supply to several areas, while at least eight water projects meant for other parts of district, including district headquarters, were damaged.

The damage to Chitral town’s water scheme alone disrupted the supply of drinking water to more than 80,000 people.

The RRS department has sought Rs329.97 million from the government for the early restoration of services.

A breakdown of the sought-after funds shows that the restoration of irrigation channels is likely to cost around Rs43 million, rehabilitation of Chitral town’s water supply over Rs55 million, repair or reconstruction of roads Rs85 million, that of bridges Rs26 million, channelisation of Rogheli stream Rs45 million, flood protection works Rs60 million, and rehabilitation of microhydel stations around Rs15 million.

Meanwhile, officials insist that Golain’s lush green meadows and pastures attract thousands of tourists in the summer season but the destruction of roads by Glof has rendered it impossible for visitors to be there.

They also say the damage caused by the flood to tourism in the area will never be assessed.

Published in Dawn, July 23rd, 2019