A STRONG earthquake wreaked havoc in Roundu valley of Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) in late December, killing eight people, including three children, injuring one person, and destroying more than 300 houses. However, the government is yet to take measures to rehabilitate the valley, which connects Baltistan division with Gilgit and the rest of the country.

The main road from Gilgit to Skardu, which was blocked due to landslides in the wake of the earthquake, is still blocked. Even before the damage, the road was dangerous.

It has several sharp turns, leading to accidents and putting commuters’ lives at risk.

The government must establish a mechanism to deal with natural disasters effectively. It should provide proper compensation to all earthquake affectees, maintain transparency in the distribution of relief goods and help restore normal life in the valley.

Apart from the recent earthquake, the valley is plagued by various problems. It awaits the grant of the status of a full district and its residents are deprived of even basic facilities.

To an outsider, GB looks like heaven on earth. People come here to enjoy nature and reduce stress. But it is a sad reality that it is quite a stressful experience for the local residents to see GB fast becoming one of the most neglected parts, marred by poverty, lawlessness and utter lack of governance.

Jahangir Karamat
Skardu

Published in Dawn, May 7th, 2022

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