May 14, 2010

Gilgit Baltistan: Hunza Lake May Burst Its Banks, Says Met Office

The Flood Forecasting Division of the Pakistan that the lake created in Gilgit Baltistan by a massive landslide in January could be breached at any time, killing and injuring thousands .

Below is an article published by

The Flood Forecasting Division of the Pakistan Meteorological Department warned on Wednesday [12 May 2010] that the lake created in Hunza valley by a massive landslide in January could be breached at any time because water was continuously flowing into it.

In an advisory issued to all government departments, the division said that appropriate measures should be taken as quickly as possible to deal with the threat.

The problem should be resolved by May 25. “Otherwise, there will be overflow of water. The resulting chain reaction may also damage Tarbela dam,” head of the division, Hazrat Mir, told Dawn.

The FFD had issued a similar warning on March 31, urging authorities to take immediate measures to avert any catastrophe.

According to the latest advisory prepared by Mr Mir, the Indus flows are mainly based on the glacier/snowmelt contribution and the Hunza River, on which the dam has been formed, is one of the major contributors to the flows.

With an increase in temperature, the snowmelt rises very rapidly and the average discharge at Dinyore downstream Attabad, jumps from 6,000 cusecs during May to 20,000 cusecs during June, and to 40,641 cusecs during July.

The latest report by the NDMA (National Disaster Management Authority) indicates that the discharge these days is more than 2,300 cusecs and the level of the lake is 320 feet at Attabad.

The present rise in the level of the lake due to this is approximately 3 feet per day which will reach 5 feet per day in the near future. With this rate of rise in level the situation may become critical soon.

The banks of the lake are not properly constructed and there is no proper spillway. So there is the likelihood that the increasing pressure from the additional water accumulating in the lake will create breaches in the dam, “which will develop into the worst kind of flash floods in the Hunza River, creating havoc downstream”, according to the advisory.

In its earlier advisory on March 3, the FFD had indicated that blasting by the KKH (Karakoram Highway) constructors might have caused cracks in the mountain slopes which gave way due to an earthquake, blocking the Hunza River.

It had said the natural lakes created in the hilly areas due to landslides posed a major threat to the localities situated downstream. This threat was proportional to the value of water contained in the lakes.

Meanwhile, some residents of Gilgit-Baltistan said that overflowing of water from the lake at Attabad would be devastating for the people of the area.

Speaking at a news conference at the Lahore Press Club, Baba Jan, a former member of the District Council, Gilgit, and others said the time was running out fast. The water level had reached dangerous levels.

It was now time for people to be evacuated from the area, they added.

They said the lake which had already caused a lot of damage to the region was bound to affect tourism resort Gulmat Gojal in a day or two, damaging hundreds of houses, three main hotels, several orchards and agriculture land.