CHITRAL: The residents and tourists have expressed concern about the Bumburate valley site selected for putting up camping pods, claiming the place is highly vulnerable to floods.
They said the debris of the 2015 floods lying around that site proved corroborated their fears for a human tragedy.
The Tourism Corporation Khyber Pakhtunkhwa had acquired land in Sarujal village of Bumburate valley for establishing a camping pod village as part of its initiative to promote tourism. It partially paid rent to landowners for the purpose.
The strip situated on the left bank of the stream is a high-risk area contiguous to the waterway passing through the centre of the valley. It had narrowly escaped destruction by the 2015 floods, which was diverted to the other side towards the village.
The villagers said the valley hadn’t witnessed floods in the last four years but the risk hovered there.
They feared that the piece of land would be washed away even by a small flood as the debris and boulders in the upstream would divert towards it.
Tour operator Jamali Khan said the camping podsite would remain unoccupied during the season as the tourists won’t endanger their life.
He said the idea of promoting camping pod site was a commendable gesture on part of the TCKP but the selection of risky place had marred it.
The tour operator said the authorities would have a realisation about their fears in April when the spring festival of Chilim Jusht was to take place.
He said there were many spacious and reserved places in the upstream of the valley free from the risk of being hit by floods.
Mr Jamali said the major portion of the Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation hotel in Bumburate was washed away by floods in 2015, while the tourists staying there narrowly escaped disaster.
The residents also insisted that the camping place threatened the health of the people living in the downstream and Ayun village as a septic tank had been put up close to the stream, the only source of both irrigation and drinking water.
They feared that the sewage discharged by latrines and falling into the septic tank could mix with the stream water and thus, contaminating that water.
When contacted, deputy commissioner of Lower Chitral Naveed Ahmad said the valley’s resident had complained about the camping pod site, so he was looking into the matter.
He said he would share his report with high-ups for immediate action.
Mr Ahmad said the lives of tourists couldn’t be endangered as it would affect tourism in the area.
Published in Dawn, January 11th, 2020