By Shabbir Mir
GILGIT: The regional capital of Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) has been without electricity for over 48 hours as the main water supply pipeline, that causes the 18- megawatt hydel power project at Naltar to function, was damaged in a landslide. The breakdown that brought life to a standstill is likely to persist for the next three to four days as floods and rains are impeding the repair work at Naltar power project, a major power facility.
The lack of electricity has not only left Gilgit’s residents with dying mobile phones and computers, it has also deprived them of running water. While other parts of G-B are often without electricity, Gilgit city, the seat of the government, is usually better off.
The blackout has brought businesses to a screeching halt at a time when the influx of tourists has crossed all previous records.
“This blackout has seriously damaged my business,” said Riaz Ahmad, a vendor who sells ice- cream and frozen food. “I’m at the verge of bankruptcy as I cannot afford a generator to keep my supply at the required temperature,” he added.
Muhammad Shabeer, a departmental store owner, said, “My goods come from Rawalpindi and Lahore, and this power breakdown means I am set to lose the investment I have made.”
Apart from businessmen, students, patients, professionals and homemakers also face problems in their daily routines. “I find it difficult to write reports and file them on time,” said Meraj Alam, a Gilgit-based journalist. “Work is in progress but rains and floods have served as major obstructions to our work,” said an official from the water and power department. “Let’s hope there are no more floods and rains and that we get the power back in a couple of days,” he added.
Over the past week, landslides hit several areas in G-B, causing loss of lives and damaging infrastructure. Four people have died, 80 houses and a number of valleys have been destroyed.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 28th, 2015.