Traffic comes to a halt in Alpuri Bazaar, Shangla, on Wednesday due to heavy snowfall. — Dawn
Traffic comes to a halt in Alpuri Bazaar, Shangla, on Wednesday due to heavy snowfall. — Dawn

MINGORA: Residents of the snowbound mountainous regions of Swat and Chitral have been facing numerous problems after heavy snowfall there due to closure of link roads and disruption of power supply. In Upper Dir, the Lowari tunnel road linking Chitral with Dir district remained closed to traffic due to snow.

In Swat, the residents of Mankiyal, Kedam, Pishmal, Laikot, Kalam, Ushu, Matlitan, Utror, Gabral and many other snowbound areas said that the heavy snowfall had disrupted the entire system in their areas as nearly all the link roads were blocked either by landslides or snow avalanches.

“The electricity beyond Bahrain has been disconnected where Pesco linemen have virtually disappeared. In such harsh weather, we badly need electricity for different purposes,” said Mujahid Torwali, a resident of Kedam area. He said that several areas were witnessing electricity blackout after the snowfall.

However, residents of Kalam said that since they were provided with electricity by SRSP from locally-run micro hydropower stations they had no issue of loadshedding or blackout in their area.

Nazir Ahmad, a resident of Kalam, said they had not even seen power outages during the snowfall.

Hundreds of hamlets in the upper gorges of Mankiyal, Kalam, Matiltan and Utror valleys were disconnected with the rest of the areas as the link roads to those hamlets and far-flung areas were blocked due to landslides.

Utror, Gabral and other villages located about 27 kilometres from Kalam were completely cut off from rest of the country due to snowfall.

“Life has been paralyzed in our area after receiving over five feet snow,” Malik Dildar, a resident of Utror said, urging the authorities to clear the road on priority.

Deputy commissioner, Swat, Saqib Raza Aslam said that work on clearing road was underway in Kalam, Utror and Mankiyal where 90 per cent of link roads had already been cleared. “Presently, vehicles with chains around their wheels can commute to Kalam,” he said.

In Chitral and its valleys, life remained paralysed for the fourth consecutive day on Wednesday as the roads could not be opened to traffic after the heavy snowfall while the district remained cut off from rest of the country due to closure of Lowari road.

The intense cold followed by snowfall and the closure of various roads has confined the people to their homes.

Fearing fall of boulders and avalanches and on the roads passing through different valleys in the mountainous terrains, snow clearance work could not be started as yet due to which all the three Kalash valleys of Bumburate, Birir and Rumbur, and Garum Chashma, Madak Lusht, Torkhow and Yarkhoon are closed.

Meanwhile a private shelter home was opened by Indigenous People Survival Foundation for the needy people so they could protect themselves from the cold and avail of the meals, bedding and warm water there.

In Upper Dir, Lowari tunnel road linking Chitral with Dir district remained closed to traffic.

Deputy commissioner, Upper Dir, Khalid Iqbal Khattak reached the Lowari tunnel to review the situation. He sent Levies personnel to the north side and directed them to bring stranded passengers to Upper Dir side. Passengers have been brought and facilitated in shelters. The main Dir-Kumrat road was also opened to traffic.

The National Highway Authority’s heavy machinery removed snow from Lowari tunnel road and cleared avalanche on the north side with the help of machinery.

Also, most of the link roads in Upper Doog Darra, Siyasin, Jandrai, Gawadi, Palam, Hatan Darra, Zayarano, Nasrat Darra, Bin Darra and other areas were closed to traffic due to heavy snowfall.

Published in Dawn, January 16th, 2020