Hunza hit by severe water crisis; crops, plants wither
By Amjad Hussain Barcha
Gilgit. Several areas of district Hunza have been experiencing severe water shortage for the last several days after glacial lake outburst and flash floods hit channels supplying water for both irrigation and drinking.
A large number of people staged a massive protest demonstration in Aliabad on Saturday against the non-availability of drinking and irrigation water and raised slogans against the local administration for their alleged apathy over the water crisis.
Glacial lake outburst and flash floods have hit different parts of Hunza, causing massive damage to main channels in Ulter Nala, Hassanabad and Mayun Bar, the three main water supply source to the Hunza district.
At a time when domestic and foreign tourists have flooded the picturesque Hunza valley, the water crisis is not only taking a toll on the residents but also on restaurants, hotels and guest houses that have been struggling to cope with the water crisis.
Some residents of Hunza– a top tourist destination with the highest literacy rate in the whole country– told The Punch that the local administration has been turning a deaf ear to their complaints about water shortage. They said now the situation has turned so serious that people, in some areas, have been walking long distances to fetch drinking water.
They said that pipelines supplying water from natural streams and other sources have also been damaged by flash floods and households and businesses have been struggling to meet the drinking water needs for the past five weeks.
They feared that if the water crisis persisted for a long time, a catastrophic situation could not be ruled out in the future.
According to locals, standing crops have badly been damaged and plants have wilted in water-scarce areas.
They said that several areas have been facing severe water shortage for the last two months and the local administration and the Gilgit-Baltistan government have been paying the least attention to the grave issue
Gilgit-Baltistan Disaster Management Authority Deputy Director Raja Zaheer Uddin Babar told The Punch that they have mobilized the machinery and bulldozers to the affected locations to repair water channels. He said that since the damage had been caused on a massive scale, it was taking time to repair the damaged water channels.
He said that an alternate channel was being built in Ultar Nala and work will be started on it from August 6. The NDMA official said that though temperatures persisted for a very brief time this year around, flash floods occurred in Hunza and damaged water supply channels and other infrastructure including roads and bridges.