Shisper glacier: Authorities step in with a comprehensive plan as disaster looms large

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GILGIT – Authorities have started training communities on war footings to avert a looming disaster in Gilgit-Baltistan’s Hunza valley where a surging glacier has posed serious threats to communities living downstream.

The glacier, called Shishper glacier, broke and blocked the upstream canal of the Hasanabad Valley in Hunza recently, forming a dangerous artificial lake just like the one formed in the Attabad Valley back in 2010. This has formed quite a large artificial lake on the head of the village where around 50 homes are located.

“Mock exercises are being carried out with the local people to ensure they are well prepared in case of an emergency,” said commissioner Gilgit Kamal Khan  on Thursday.

Khan, who visited the site along with force commander and region’s chief secretary on Thursday, said safe routes for evacuation of communities have been identified so they can escape safely in case of an emergency.

According to SUPARCO, the glacier has reportedly surged nearly 170 meters over the past one month.

The official said in case of emergency, the G-B disaster management (G-BDMA), AKAH and Al-Khidmat Foundation have replenished their stocks of food and nonfood items.

The director general G-BDMA Farid Ahmad said the protective work to safeguard public and private properties is underway. “An amount of Rs. 31.500 million have already been released to concerned departments to carry out protective works of urgent nature,” Ahmad told TheGilgit.

“Arrangement to safeguard the irrigation channels and water supply are also being undertaken.”

On the directives from the chief secretary, he said, officials in the DMA Hunza have been asked to list the houses and means of livelihood at stake.

According to the DG, arrangement to safeguard the irrigation channels and water supply  and roads network to upper parts will remain linked through alternate identified route, while NHA and FWO will link the KKH within a weeks’ time if it is hit by heavy discharge. Alternate bridge has been arranged by NHA which will be shifted to the site shortly, while the alternate route will be maintained by G-B PWD. Furthermore, to reduce the risk, Food Department is arranging 4 to 5 months’ stock at Central Hunza, Upper Hunza and Upper Nagar.

Addressing the community at Hassanabad, Hunza, chief secretary unveiled a contingency plan under which 40,000 wheat bags, besides medicines have been arranged to meet a disaster, if any.

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