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People stand near the water reservoir in Naltar. PHOTO: EXPRESS
People stand near the water reservoir in Naltar. PHOTO: EXPRESS

Fear of landslide: 82 families living near reservoir at risk of being swept away

By Shabbir Mir

GILGIT: At least 82 families, who live near a water reservoir constructed for Gilgit-Baltistan’s largest hydropower project in Naltar Valley, fear they will be at risk if a landslide strikes.

Speaking to The Express Tribune on Sunday, Mumtaz Khan, a local, said, “We can’t live here anymore. If a landslide hits the reservoir, we will be swept away by the gushing water.”

Another resident echoed these sentiments. “We strongly request the government to allocate 80 kanals of land to us so that we could move there before it’s too late,” he said.

Cause of concern

According to officials, the architectural design of the reservoir and the hydropower project remains a cause of concern. The reservoir is constructed on top of a slope and is spread over 18 kanals of land which is highly prone to landslides.

Residents fear the threat and have ceased to work in the area.

They threatened they would not let the government carry out work on the hydropower project till an alternative arrangement has been made for them.  They said the government had signed an agreement with them in the past but failed to address their grievances.

G-B Deputy Speaker Jafarullah visited Naltar Valley and met residents. On the occasion, he lashed out at the engineers who designed the project and expressed his sympathy with the families.

The backdrop

The hydel power project was built in 2008 during former military dictator  Pervez Musharraf’s government. Construction work was completed within four years.

It is the largest hydropower plant in G-B. A Chinese firm worked on its construction under the supervision of the water and power department.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 18th,  2016.

 

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