By Shabbir Mir
GILGIT: In a bid to prevent losses caused by floods, the Gilgit-Baltistan government has planned to install an early warning system in valleys prone to landslides and flash floods.
An official statement issued from the chief minister office on Saturday read the system will be installed by G-B Disaster Management Authority in Bagrote and Hunza valleys with technical support from Nepal-based organisation International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD).
“ICIMOD will also train officials to deal with emergencies relating to natural disasters,” read the statement.
The decision was taken in a meeting held between G-B Chief Minister Hafeezur Rahman and ICIMOD Director General Dr David James Molden in Kathmandu, Nepal. Rahman is on an official visit to the country.
“The objective of the CM’s visit is to learn from Nepal and adopt measures to deal with climate issues,” Adviser to G-B Chief Minister Abid Baig told The Express Tribune.
Baig said besides early warning systems in G-B, other modern machinery used for clearing roads would also be purchased ahead of the flood season. “There is a complete plan to deal with floods and other natural calamities this time around,” Baig added, saying every district would be provided with necessary machinery and funds beforehand to ensure flooding does not affect lives and properties of people.
“It is for the first time in G-B that we have allocated sufficient funds in our budget to deal with floods,” Baig said.
Flooding has been a regular phenomenon in G-B. In 2015, at least 15 people were killed and over 40 injured in rain-related incidents across the region.
In addition, heavy rainfall and flash floods resulted in losses worth Rs1.5 billion to the region, damaging roads and bridges in various valleys. The floods damaged 42 hydel power stations in the region. Of the total, 26 powerhouses were damaged in Baltistan alone.
Pakistan is suffering losses worth billions of dollars due to climate change. According to the Global Climate Risk Index 2012, the country has been ranked third among the countries worst affected by this phenomenon.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 21st, 2016.