GB govt issues alert as rivers overflow

Published July 2, 2022
RAGING torrents have damaged the temporary bridge installed on the Karakoram Highway in Hassanabad.—Dawn
RAGING torrents have damaged the temporary bridge installed on the Karakoram Highway in Hassanabad.—Dawn

GILGIT: The Gilgit-Baltistan government on Friday issued an alert about possible disasters in areas along the banks of rivers and nullahs across the region as flooding in rivers swept away a bridge and damaged several roads in the region.

As a result of the high inflow of water due to a days-long heatwave, many link roads in Ghizer, Hunza, Nagar, Shigar, and Ghanche have been damaged.

GB Home Secretary Iqbal Hussain Khan told Dawn that an alert has been issued for possible disasters in areas near rivers and nullahs across the GB region. He said high temperatures were recorded in GB over the past few days which caused flooding in rivers and nullahs.

Mr Khan said people living in vulnerable areas have been asked to take precautionary measures and added that an emergency plan has been prepared to cope with any untoward situation.

Several link roads, multiple bridges damaged as water flow in rivers increases

Bridge washed way

Meanwhile, locals said that an increased flow of water in the rivers affected areas in Badswat in the Ishkoman valley of the Ghizer district. The only bridge connecting at least eight villages with Badswat was also washed away by the flood, disconnecting the villages from the rest of the region.

Naeem Anwar, another resident of the area, told Dawn that there had been an increase in the water inflow from the Badswat glacier for the past three days. He added that the flooding had inundated agri land and trees near the river. “People living in the downstream areas have been shifted to safer areas, he added.

Similarly, flooding in Hisper and Hoper rivers in Nagar damaged agricultural land, trees and cattle farms in Harchi village of Nagar Khas. A local resident, Ali Haidar, said unusual water flow in the river also damaged protective walls which were constructed to divert the river. He added that the village would be under threat if the river changed its course.

Furthermore, flooding in nullahs of Ghanche and Shigar districts was also reported, which disconnected many link roads and damaged agricultural land.

Similarly, a heavy flow of water from the Shisper Glacier blocked the Karakoram Highway at the Hassanabad nullah in Hunza after a temporary bridge – installed at the KKH after the Shisper Glacier outburst collapsed in May this year— was submerged.

The Hunza administration said that the water flow from the glacier posed a threat to the temporary bridge on the KKH in Hassanabad. In light of the flooding, the traffic on KKH had been diverted t to SAS Valley Nagar from Murtazabad to Ganish.

According to Frontier Work Organization (FWO), the bridge had been closed due to flooding; therefore, the KKH was blocked at Hassanabad and ahead. The commuters have been requested to use alternate routes available at Murtazabad connecting Nagar and Aliabad.

GB Environmental Protection Agency Director Shahzad Shigri said the rapid melting started after a heatwave across the GB region. Mr Shigri said the snow received in winter did not melt until late summer. He added the GB region experienced sudden hot weather which caused rapid melting of the existing snow and glaciers.

“After sudden temperature increased the snow at mountains is not in a stable condition and glaciers are melting fast, he warned.

Published in Dawn, July 2nd, 2022

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