Panic among Hunza villagers as fear of glacial lake outburst grows

Published May 19, 2021
The stream from the two glaciers falls into the Hunza river at Hasanabad.
The stream from the two glaciers falls into the Hunza river at Hasanabad.

GILGIT: The increasing water discharge from the Shisper glacial lake in Hunza has created fear among people living downstream near Hasanabad.

The surge in the nearby Muchuhur glacier in May 2018 had blocked the water flow, creating a lake in Shisper glacier. The stream from the two glaciers falls into the Hunza river at Hasanabad.

According to the district administration, steps are being taken to cope with any emergency situation.

The possible glacial lake outburst has the potential to submerge a portion of Kara­koram Highway, a bridge, over 100 houses in Hasan­abad village, two powerhouses, a Frontier Works Organ­isation camp office and hundreds of kanals of fertile land. It may also submerge drinking water channels of central Hunza and block the flow of the Hunza river.

Talking to Dawn, Hunza Deputy Commissioner Fiaz Ahmed said all possible steps had been taken to protect the residents and important installations in the risk areas.

He said water discharge from Shisper glacier had started on Saturday, and by Monday water discharge had reached 2,300 cusecs.

He said that in June 2019 and May 2020 the lake outbursts had damaged four houses, 250 kanals of agricultural land, many fruit and non-fruit trees, a portion of the KKH and a hydropower station in downstream areas.

The Hunza DC said protective walls had been constructed along the Hasan­abad nullah to protect the hazard-prone areas from flooding. He said if the water discharge continued at the present rate, 60 per cent of water would be drained out in the next couple of days. He said three camps had been established to evacuate the residents of 30 houses from vulnerable areas if the discharge reached 4,000 cusecs.

Published in Dawn, May 19th, 2021

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