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Booni flood damage --a lesson learnt 1

The people of Booni and its surrounding areas witnessed  a unique phenomenon in its very long history. On July 28th a huge flood hit the area as a result of an out burst in the mammoth glacier towering over Booni. According to the living old age people this was the first incident of its type in their whole life time. None of them have witnessed such an incident in their whole life apan of 70 or 80 years. For two days people remained outside their village and stayed either under the open sky or opted to live with their relatives in the surroundings. On the one hand, the flood carrying huge mass of rocks and pieces of ice from glacier created havoc but more than that the misuse of the communication technology especially the cell phones added to the worries of the people. In the panic situation every individual played the role of a fake messenger. The role of a Gujar who lives up in the mountain is said to be the most chaotic and messy. Such kinds of confusion often serve as the source of confusing situation among the masses which in turn becomes a source of propaganda and creates more panic. In this article I want to draw the attention of the people towards the crime committed by some Gujars and the loss of resources besides other psychological and emotional stress, as a result.
On July 27th, it was learnt that there were chances of explosion in the glacier of Booni Gol. This was the information well on time. The role of Tehsil Municipal Administration (TMA) is really commendable for their alertness and active role in informing the people so that they would mentally be prepared for any untoward situation. Next day on July 28th at 1:30PM a thundering sound was heard in the Booni Gol which was the incident expected by majority of the people. Every body including male female and children were rushing towards a safer place mostly to the elevated places. Children and Women were crying uproariously. Same number of the people also went to see the huge mass of flood flowing through Booni Gol. At that moment it was felt that within hour the whole village will be submerged in the flood.
The real panic started at that moment when the people of Booni were left on the mercy of unauthentic information conveyed by a Gujar residing well above Booni. He used his mobile phone very efficiently and misinformed the people about the flood speed and the possible destruction. In the panic hour every update on the flood situation was being referred to that Gujar in the pasture who without knowing the ABC of the geological changes and ice caps was communicating every updates.
About all the families moved to the safer places outside Booni without knowing their near future and the future of their loved ones. On the way one could saw dozen numbers of people carrying their children and belonging. Incidentally, it was raining cat and dog. FOCUS humanitarian assistance a well known international organization was present as usual to respond to this natural disaster. Its omnipresence make the people feel better in the time of big calamities. But, it was pathetic to see that without any authentic information they also set up tent and arranged breakfast for the displaced people. However, except three tents all the others were empty waiting for the people. It seems deplorable and pathetic that an international organization like FOCUS also relied on the disinformation conveyed by a Gujar.
No one knows that who make Gujar responsible of updating the people in a panic situation, the administration, The NGOs or any other philanthropic organization. No one knows who will ask the person for this heinous crime.
It has often been seen that calamity hit areas are always under extreme stress and trauma. People believe what ever they listen. It has also been observed that unauthentic and disinformation causes more damage than the natural disaster itself. As the attention of the people is totally diverted in such circumstances so the unpleasant incident of robbery and looting the houses could not also be ruled out because the mafia is always alert to find such an event to get advantage of the panic situation.
In circumstances like this the authenticity of information is very crucial. Here the question is that who will provide the authentic and true information and how do people believe the authenticity and reliability of the news conveyed to them in the days of catastrophes are pertinent to be answered. The first and the foremost responsibility are lying on the shoulder of the people in local or regional administrations. They can reserve a person or two for this task. The expected target population must be advised not to believe the rumors and hearsay. A central control office will highly be important so that people get instantaneous information about such calamities. Furthermore people must be advised to take help and information only from the centers established.  (To be continued)……   --ZA Zulfi, Booni, 02 Aug 10.  


Booni flood damage --a lesson learnt 2

Major damage caused by the flood in Booni Gol includes the devastation of property, i.e. washing away of cultivating land, demolition of houses and uprooting the vegetation on both the sides of the main stream. Although the flood did not enter the main village habitation, which would have resulted in more devastation in the form of dismantling the people from their houses, but the existing situation could not also be termed as risk-free. Destructions, be it on small scale or on large scales are equal in magnitude. In both the cases people are suffered a lot in the hand of nature. The factors behind the out burst of the mammoth glacier are countless. Every one has its own way of interpretation according to its own understanding. Majority of them have the view that the recent destruction was the result of God’s wrath because of our own misdeeds. However, ultimately we, the human being invite the anger of God not just by propagating vulgarity but also by playing with the nature and disturbing the balance in ecosystem in our own way. Global warming is one factor which is responsible for the rapid melt down of the glacier not only in Chitral but also in the Antarctica which is the largest frozen water reservoir on the face of the planet earth. Local factors could also be accounted for this imbalance. If small steps are taken on local level, then in the future such casualties could be minimized.
It has been seen during the calamity that vegetation of both sides of the streams hindered in the smooth flow of mud thus making its speed very slow. The natural pathway was being encroached by the inhabitants on the sides of the stream. In the past, even the people from other areas of Booni, who came to collect stones for constructions, were not allowed to do so. The recent flood cleared up the way in a natural way thus destroying the large number of trees. In the future, the people who intrude and interfere with the stream sides must be penalized. Moreover, both the sides of the watercourse must be monitored accordingly.
Secondly, the grazing area in the mountains of Booni have more than 2000 domestic animals i.e. goats and sheep. Because of continuous movement of these animals in the area not a single plant like grass and flowers are left intact. As there are no frequent rains in the area, so a thick dust is accumulated which on rain turned into flood. It was the first time that Upper Chitral received heavy rainfall during the month of July. The domestication of animals must be stopped so as to protect the soil and the vegetation in the pastures.
Last but not the least, the recent condition of the glacier has been thoroughly surveyed by the FOCUS humanitarian assistance. The finding of the survey must be assessed by the international expert on the changes in climatic condition and geologists and the survey report must be made public as soon as possible so as to update the people about any big disaster. In addition, more survey teams should also be invited to study the prevalent condition of the glacier not only in Booni Gol but also in other parts of the district.  --ZA Zulfi, Booni, 04 Aug 10.  



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