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Making Booni a safer place to live -2
I am writing to appreciate and support Engineer Tanvier Ali’s suggestion for making Booni safer in the event of more floods. Mr.Tanvir has done the ground work for making Booni a safer place to live. The letter contains a good roadmap with sound recommendations which need to be considered by different stakeholders for implementation. Booni, a beautiful large town and the headquarters of Upper Chitral or Chitral II, with a population of more than 25000 and with large number of public and private sector social service institutions and structures is in danger of being obliterated by floods if timely measures for its safety are not taken.

The old adage that ‘a stitch in time saves nine’ is relevant now with regard to making Booni a safer place to live. Mammoth and impregnable embankments in few places and deepening the stream in the centre by removing rocks and stones from the centre by heavy machinery such as excavators would cost PKR 30 to 40 million to the government, NGOs, philanthropist and the local communities combined. In case the efforts for salvaging Booni is delayed, and God forbid, if one or two more currents of flood comes this year or the next year then the damage to the town; to the communities and to the government and private sector institutions will be in billions. It will be of no use to cry over spilt milk when the devastation takes place. And pursuing the difficult task of hunting for ‘honest people’ for distribution of charity in the form of food, tents, blankets etc would be of less utility to the communities if the catastrophe overwhelms them.

Mr. Tanvir has suggested that Mehraka society of Booni Gool and the local BLSO will be the leading forums to manage the operation for fund raising and spending. I agree with him that the work should be executed by a selective group of local community members and should not be given to contractors. But I feel BLSO or Mehraka society may not have the necessary expertise to execute such a big project. I would suggest that a ‘Booni Disaster Prevention Committee’ may be constituted taking people of neutral and reputable character from different walks of life. Members from BLSO and Mehraka society can also be taken into that committee. Initial local fund raising is a good idea as the communities seems to have been trained in self-help philosophy and participatory approach for quite a long time by NGOs and RSPs. If not 5000.00 per household even 2000.00 per household in the first stages would be a good start. The Booni Disaster Prevention Committee can also approach local and foreign philanthropist for donations. It can also request the NGOs, voluntary organizations, faith-based voluntary institutions and structures working in the district for dissemination of its plea for donation and for any type of help that can be helpful in safeguarding Booni from a disaster.

In the ultimate analysis, the efforts by different stakeholders recommended in Tanvir’s letter do not absolve the provincial and federal governments from its primary responsibility of saving Booni from imminent disaster. We have well-reputed and energetic elected members in provincial assembly and in the national assembly and one of them is a provincial minister. Some ex-elected representatives can also play effective roles and some of them such as ex-MPA and present president of P.P.P district Chitral Mr. Zain-ul-Abeedin is already active and raising his voice for the safety of Booni in different forums including with the district administration.

Since huge foreign aid of around $ 500 million ( which is likely to increase in the coming weeks) is being channeled to Pakistan for relief operations and Chitral must get its share from that money for much needed safety and damage control works in Booni and else where. People of Booni believe that their sitting provincial minister Mr. Salim Khan, their Member National Assembly, Shahzada Mohy-ud-Din and MPA Ghulam Mohammad who hails from Booni, are the right persons to lead this struggle for the safety of Booni with the federal and provincial governments. Mr. Salim is a young politician and during his brief political career he became deputy district nazim in the district government and has risen to the rank of provincial cabinet minister. Shahzada Mohy-ud-Din is a very senior, dynamic and distinguished parliamentarian. He is one of the few MNAs across Pakistan who has returned to National Assembly for the fourth time in twenty-five years winning in 1985, 1990, 1997 and 2008 as elected representative of Chitral. He has also headed the district government of Chitral for two terms. He is reputed in government circles for his open-minded discussions and is reported to be a tough negotiator. Because of his political and parliamentary experience and due to his sagacity and stature, he is well-known in ministerial corps and in the establishment. The people of Upper Chitral in general and Booni in particular have many a time reposed their confidence and trust in Shahzada Mohy-ud-Din and he has also reciprocated the trust of the people in a positive way. The latest example being that Mohy-ud-Din was the first public representative who reached Booni during the third day of the floods and inspected the flooding stream and its shaky banks during heavy rains. He gave an initial grant of Rs. 300, 0000.00 for immediate restoration of utility services and promised a permanent solution to the flood danger in consultation with other public representatives.

People of Booni are hopeful that Mr. Salim Khan, Shahzada Mohy-ud-Din and Ghulam Mohammad will lead the efforts for making Booni a safer place to live. They are also expected to show unity in their ranks; shun unnecessary political confrontation and show to other Pakistani politicians that Chitrali politicians are more matured and cultured. In this digital age people will only appreciate those who honestly work for them and the days of petty politics seems to have gone.

A lead role by government and public representatives could be instrumental in motivating and mobilizing the communities, NGOs and other support agencies and organization towards fund raising and self-help. A joint effort by elected representatives and public and private sector agencies is direly needed in averting the impending disaster from Booni and our elected representatives have to rise to the occasion to lead the joint struggle for making Booni a safer place to live. --Mir Wazir Khan, Awi, Chitral,  27 Aug 10

 

Natural Disasters in Chitral, lessons learnt
 

The recurrences of natural disasters like intensive rains, global warming, melting of glaciers, Glacial Lake Outburst Floods (GLOFs), land sliding and flash floods have badly affected the people, livelihoods, infrastructures and communication system across the Pakistan. The district of Chitral has also been severely hit by the GLOFs and flash floods which lost human lives, livelihoods, physical infrastructures and natural resources.


The devastation of flash floods in Ochosht village of Chitral in 25th June 2010 was the first occurrence of natural disaster in the Chitral. But, since the last week of July 2010, every day we come across a natural disaster either part of the district. We heard that houses in a particular village washed away with the floods, human being drowned, livestock fled in floods, water supply schemes, roads, bridges, telephone lines and electricity damaged. The situation in Booni and some other villages was very critical and they were more vulnerable to flash floods and land sliding. Therefore, these villages were evacuated and people lived in the tents or under open sky in heavy rains. Still in some villages people have been confined to their affected villages and they are vulnerable to famine and epidemic diseases.


District administration and other development organizations in the district have not yet produced an assessment report of the devastation, because the communication system of the largest district has totally been damaged by flash floods. Because, all the government agencies and other developmental organizations especially FOCUS Humanitarian are mainly involved in relief and rescue activities. Some Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and Local Support Organizations are in process of the rough assessment of the natural disasters in its respective areas. It is expected that the district administration and other organizations will be able to produce disaster assessment report in couple of days. Than we will have some figures of what we lost and what is the actual cost of the lost in economic, social and environmental aspect.


People are usually talking about the changing weather, intensity/frequency of natural disasters and the history of devastations in past decades in a particular area. Being a Muslim it is our belief that all the natural disasters are imposed by Almighty Allah upon human being due to their unethical, nonreligious deeds and to realize the mankind for seeking forgiveness of Allah and to determine not to commit such mistake. On the other hand the Modern Sciences which have roots in Holly Quran predicts about the global warming, climate change and its adverse affects on human being, livelihoods and natural resources. But unfortunately we are far behind in field of modern sciences and research especially in climate sciences.


Human being has the power of intellect which makes him/her superior from other creatures in the universe. Now we have to act wisely upon both our religious beliefs and prediction of the modern sciences regarding climate change and natural disasters. We have to open our eyes and intellect on the phenomenon of natural disasters and make a wise decision to mitigate our vulnerabilities and to protect our environment. What we have to gain from the natural disasters are to get lessons not to repeat the mistakes which we committed. During the current flood devastation it observed that in some places houses were built close to stream which washed away. While in Sonoghor village reconstruction works had been started in flood affected area during 2007 which again damaged by the current floods.


It is expected that the reconstruction and rehabilitation works will soon start because it is the urgent need of the homeless and affected people across the country. But we should not make hurry just assuming that such disasters happen in the decades or centuries and start reconstruction works immediately either with own resources or through the fund provided by the national government or international communities. . We have to integrate our traditional knowledge of natural disaster management into modern disaster risk reduction strategies which are based upon the finding of modern sciences. Before taking any step in reconstruction works the government agencies such as National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), Meteorological Department of the country, international / national organizations working on disaster risk reduction or climate change should have rapid assessment of the future vulnerabilities of the disaster prone areas to mitigate expected devastations.


The policy makers in the country have to work on policy formulation in order to mitigate adverse affect of climate change in close coordination with national and international disaster risk reduction agencies. Our elected representatives, bureaucracy, scientists and global communities have to work through close coordination for the survival of the people and the country. It is the time to act jointly leaving behind all the differences in national or international level to save the earth from the devastation of natural disasters.
We appreciate the generous support of the international communities on immediate response of natural disasters in our country. But the world will be much prosperous and safe if the developed or industrial countries of the world reduced their Greenhouse Gas Emissions.


In future to reduce our vulnerabilities to the adverse affects of the climate change the local communities, religious leaders, Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), national governments, national /international disaster risk reduction agencies and research & development organizations across the globe have to play their role through collaboration and coordination. Our early efforts in this regard will make good contribution to make us resilient and adaptive to the adverse affects of climate change.--Ihsan Uddin, AKRSP, Chitral, 26 Aug 10

 

College on the edge of a precipice

 

It is no denying the fact that the beautiful head quarter of Upper Chitral (Booni) has been in an extreme looming threat of flash glacial flood since Aug 28 to date. Every one is talking about it in Chitral. People of the area and suburbs are also living in a state of fear because when it flows and combines with river causes far reaching damage to the Booni as well the areas near the river. The hysteria of fear still exists in each mind and how to give them hope of a place of safe living with scientific justification, is a question mark before the Tehsil, District government and particularly NGOs having expertise to present an authentic report gained by specialized knowledge. Every one is obsessed with Booni and trying his /her level best to do something for it. This a very encouraging omen of constructive thinking and expression of love with his abode.


I am writing this letter to bring the Govt Girls Degree College Booni into the notice of all learned ones and concerned authorities to look kindly a glimpse at the centre of learning. This College is also valuable and important like Booni for all of us being vulnerable. Most of the girls of upper Chitral get education here since last year and would continue later on.


Construction works in GGDC Booni were partially completed last year and soon after admission opened. Now this college is in the brink of river waves. Glacial flood of Booni Gole mixed up with the river sank the hanging bridge beside the college and by earth erosion flowing near the wall around the college. It is mainly because the wreckage of Booni flood has pushed the pressure of river towards college side. Now river flows near college through diminutive way available. When next flash of flood water combines with river comes there may likely be a threat to the college building. Although College is in the road side and I can say it is at vantage point but it remained unnoticed. No constructive measures have yet been taken to fortify college building from the flood threat. Government and other officials going along the road and observing everything but none noticed the only educational institution for Girls in government sector in Upper Chitral. More than 300 million has been spent for its construction but for me it is more precious than from the money spent there because it is only one centre for learning for upper Chitral’s girls. It produces and will continue to polish learned manpower not only for chitral but also for Pakistan.


Now I would like to bring it into the notice of government to take immediate measures for its protection. Education is the only shield against any thing and to develop conscientious mind to have eagle eye on social, political, economic and environmental issues and those things which are of prime importance for saving earth planet for all species including mankind. --Alhaj Muhammad Khan, Charun, 26 Aug 10..

 

What, if Booni is flooded (God forbid)
 

The recent flood, as a result of huge glacier outburst, has caused much havoc and fear among the people of the Tehsil head quarter, Booni. Rumors are being circulated about the uncertain future of this most beautiful valley of Chitral. Private properties of million of rupees along the watercourse are being washed away and the piece of lands and soil are continuously being destroyed as the high speed flood mercilessly hitting them. Though the flood water has not yet entered the main valley of Booni, however, there is a risk that further outburst of glacier in the coming years would cause more damage. There are some of the sites along the watercourse where there is a danger of flood overflow which ultimately, would result in the washing away of the whole village with the properties owned by government, semi government and private institutions. Booni, being a Tehsil headquarter and is a house to important government, semi government and privately owned offices besides business centers and other educational institutions. In case of any future tragedy such buildings with their expensive assets would be completely destroyed.


Government Tehsil Headquarter hospital is one such building which is at the main bazaar area. The hospital caters the need of population of more than 0,2 million. X-rays and well equipped laboratory facility is being provided besides child care and maternity health center. Another building of population welfare is also under construction inside its premises. Spetronic machine and centrifuge and operation theater accessories are also present in the hospital. The building and the land cost more than 200 million. In addition, the building of Government High school Booni also cost millions of rupees. Some part of its building has already been damaged by the flood and the students and teacher are highly concerned with the ongoing damage caused by the water.

 

If appropriate measures are not taken the collapse of the huge building is certain also endangering the surrounding village area. In the vicinity of the School another well furnished Government Guest house also seems vulnerable. Government Girls Degree College Booni (estimated cost of the building is approximately 200 million rupees), is another hot target of the flood water. Unfortunately, this building is standing in such a place where the high intensity of flood is galvanized after uniting with the River Yarkhoon thus endangering the whole area of Jinali Koch (a surrounding in Booni) and newly constructed office of the Forest range officer. The people in the surrounding of the college have already left their homes lest they should not be damaged. Along with the above mentioned buildings and their assets other precious government offices of Civil court, Communication and Works (C&W) office, Tehsil Municipal Administration (TMA) office, Government Girls High School Booni, more then 5 primary Schools, a veterinary hospital, Agricultural Research Center, Education office, Re-broadcasting Center of PTV, a digital telephone exchange and three towers of Ufone, Mobilink and WWL are also in danger. PTDC motel another feather in its cap could also be a target.


In addition, Booni is also a hub of all the NGOs offices. Important among them are the offices of Aga Khan Rural Support Program, Aga Khan Education service and Sarhad Rural Support program. AKES Model School and Aga Khan Medical Center have been serving in the area for the last fifteen to twenty years in the field of education and health care respectively. AKMC is providing health care facility to the entire district. It has the latest laboratory and also ultra sound, ECG and X-rays facility. A girl’s hostel, for the students of remote area is also being run by the Aga Khan Education Service just in the vicinity of other offices of Ismaili Regional Council, Arbitration office and The Tariqa and Religious Education Board Upper Chitral. All the above institutions have their own building except AKRSP, AKESP and SRSP. Another huge building near GHS Booni is owned by Silver Jubilee Development Authority.


In addition, large number private educational institutions are also serving the area. Pamir Degree College, Pearls School and College system, Orion School of Learning, Oxford School and College, Paragon college of Commerce and management and oriental college of science are some of the big institutions which cater the need of the students in the whole region. These institutions have been set up within the last ten to twenty years and are accommodating a large number of students from all parts of Chitral. Any damage to these institutions would put the future of the students in high risk.


As a preventive measure, Government, semi government and private organization could join hand with the local community to save the village from any untoward situation in the coming days. We must remember that the government alone neither has the capacity nor the resources of any kind to address any prospective damage single handedly. Cooperation with the helping hand has always been our tradition. This time we the people of this area also need a helping hand that could facilitate the people and guide them in the right direction before it is too late. Government of KPK could play its front role in the rehabilitation and rebuilding of the effected area. A well thought project with the community and NGOs representatives could save the area from any future tragedy. Let me assure all the concerned authorities that in this Herculean task they are not alone. The whole community is ready to stand along side with them and also ready to help them in terms of skillful human resource.--
Z.A.Zulfi, Booni, 26 Aug 10

 

Making Booni A Safer Place to Live - 1
 

Three weeks of unprecedented flooding, from Northern Areas of Gilgit Baltistan to southern province of Sindh, have displaced and affected more than 20 Million Pakistanis, killed more than 2000 and incurred a total loss of $43 Billion to the country’s economy. All of these figures are likely to rise as the true extent of the damage will only be known whence the water will recede from the flooded areas. Twenty percent of our country is inundated. The scenes of people moving out of flooded areas are reminiscent of the 1947 Post-partition migration. All of these facts and figures do present a gloomy picture but even more worrying is the fact that we as a country neither are prepared and have a plan to avoid such disasters nor have an effective rescue and relief mechanism in place to minimize the material and human losses from such huge catastrophe.

Booni, like most parts of the country, also got affected from the flooding but thanks to Almighty Allah that the scale of devastation over here was quite limited. However, people of Booni still have some apprehensions about what nature can bring to them and their fears are not altogether unfounded and misplaced because there are still large cracks in the glacier and some of its parts have moved away from their original position. This is an alarming situation and although damage to Booni this time around was not that huge, this looming danger means that nature may not be that merciful next time around.

It has been three weeks since the first glacial outburst, in recent history, hit Booni but life is still not back to normal. Along with rains, which are a major concern for the people, water levels in Booni Gole are also at high levels and scarcity of drinking water is further adding to their woes. Despite this desperate situation, the government and NGOs have not put in any swift and effective measures to deal with the circumstances. If anything untoward had happened in the last three weeks, we were least prepared for it. Now we, the people of Booni, should not sit back and look forward to support from government or NGOs alone. The lead must be taken by the local community. Gravity of the situation must be understood, and a proper plan should be made and put to work. Unfortunately, time is not on our side. Therefore, we need to show urgency as well as unity and commitment to save our abode. Our sole aim at this critical juncture in our lives should be “Making Booni a Safer Place to Live In”.

In this regard, Biyar Local Support Organization (BLSO) is a strong local society that can provide a suitable platform for all of us. We also have ‘Golden Mahraka’, a society of Booni Gole, which since its inception has been actively working for the interests of the locals. Since most of Golden Mahraka’s members are under direct flood threat, that makes it a very suitable choice for representing the people of Booni. Now it can take the initiative, spread its wings to all corners of Booni and help gather the people at one platform and take effective measures for properly overseeing any work that is done for this noble cause. We, the residents of Booni, must now have a common aim and for fulfilling this, we must come forward now and openly support a community level platform such as Golden Mahraka, BLSO etc.

Once established that the local community of Booni will take the lead for this cause, I suggest the following;

1. All powers vested at community level

With a common platform such as Golden Mahraka, unanimous decisions binding for all must be made. Governmental, non-governmental and local funding and support must be channelized through this platform. The utility of the funds and overall responsibility of “Making Booni a safer place to live in” should be taken up by this platform.

2. Fund Raising at local level

Depending on government and NGOs all the time round will only solve part of the problem. Booni has almost 4000 households with approximate population of 26000. Almost all of the people have properties worth more than 15 Lac and the standard of life is good as well so they can contribute funds for the following:

1. Immediate start of work to save Booni. The community jointly can decide per household amount which should be binding for all. An amount can be fixed per house taking into consideration the income and property. At an average of even 5000/house, the net amount is approximately 2 Crore. Apart from this, residents of Booni living abroad can also be contacted for financial support. Philanthropists within Chitral and abroad and donor agencies in Pakistan and beyond can also be the source of funding.
2. Rescue efforts in the future. Given that Chitral is located in a zone vulnerable to glacial floods, severe flash floods, high intensity earthquakes, heavy snowfall and various other natural calamities, a quarterly or semiannually donation can be handy for future use. Even a quarterly contribution of Rs.300 or Rs.500 semi annually can make a total of Rs.5O Lac per year. This money can be put to immediate use to cope with any untoward situation in the future.

3. Detailed study of the glacier and route of the flood.

For this, NGOs and experts (especially Glacial Lake Outburst Flood experts) can be approached and an in-depth analysis of the glacier can be done. The main aim for this task should be to make sure that Booni glacier poses no more threat. A mechanism that can drain the lakes and ponds into the stream at regular intervals before they grow dangerous is a must. Locals can be trained and paid to monitor the glacier especially in the months of June, July and August. Moreover, the route of the flood needs to be studied as well. Collapse of weak mounds into the stream can create a small lake creating a potential hazard. Even the local people can work at their own to avoid such threats. Also the portion of the stream right from Booni Gole till the end of Mulgram needs to be channelized properly.

4. Strong and high reinforcements.

This is one of the important tasks which should not be delayed any further. Except for few low banks, Booni Gole is wide and deep enough to accommodate high floods if properly channelized. Team of experienced engineers must be given the task to study these weak banks and design reinforcements for the same. Once designed, the local community itself should monitor the construction. No way should the construction be given to contractors (Theekadars) since hardly a quarter of the money is put to use by these professionals. Such a mistake will mean weak embankments ultimately putting Booni at risk. To put it simply ‘All financial support should be provided to the platform chosen by the community which should also be responsible for utilization of the funds and monitoring of the work’.

5. “NO” to cattle crazing in the hills and mountains.

Cattles are not sources of income for the vast majority of the people rather a means of staple food in winter. Grazing by a herd of more than 6000 animals makes no sense if it ultimately puts the whole area in danger. When they eat away the vegetation and forests, soil is no more held in place; the soil becomes ripe for erosion ultimately becoming suitable for flash floods. A unanimous decision must be made and implemented, completely ceasing cattle grazing in Booni Gole hills and mountains and gujars must be ordered to leave at the earliest.

6. Encourage all types of vegetation.

Clearing the forest dramatically increases the surface run-off from rainfall, mainly because a greater proportion of the rain reaches the ground due to a lack of vegetation which would suck up the excess rainfall. Herbs, shrubs and bushes and all types of vegetation must be planted. For this the NGO Wetlands can help a lot. Moreover, a proper plan can be figured out for vegetation in the hills through schools, colleges, societies etc.

7. Qaqlasht and Shipishun should be made cultivable.

The picnic spots of Qaqlasht and Shipishun should be the areas of focus too. We need to make sure that water is made available to these areas making them fit for cultivation. This can not only increase household income but also serve as alternate places for living.

The most important of all here is to take a prompt step. Meetings, discussions and planning should not be put to Sundays only for we run short of time. The devastation caused by the floods in Pakistan in its entirety is lesson for us all, to take the immediate step. At the same time, areas other than Booni must also take similar rather better initiatives to avoid the times of distress in future.

For now we pray that situation in Booni comes to normal first. Also we need not forget the evacuation of July 28th, 29th and August 9th when it was almost uncertain whether or not we will see our near and dear ones, homes and farms again. The situation is still alarming and we must not waste time in coming forward with a common platform at community level to meet the purpose of “Making Booni a safer place to live In”. Once a firm initiative is taken, I am sure that with the support of government, NGOs and the local people, this cause will make a grand success.
.--Engr Tanveer Ali Khan, Kabul, 23 Aug 10

 

Flood woes of Karimabad -letter 1


The unexpected flash floods in all watercourses and tributaries to main Karimabad River have washed away five jeep-able bridges, two channels of hydro power station of Breshgram, Herth and Hinjil. Also, the merciless floods destroyed standing wheat and pea crops leaving farmers little left to use. In Hasanabad and Siwhat Villages, a poor person Madad Hussain, Abi Hayat Khan and three others have been made homeless. These poor people are being housed in makeshift camps by the local people.

 

The area is now completely cut off from road links to other parts of its Tehsil and the district. The public of Karimabad have repaired Parsan to Susum link road on self-help basis as an alternative route on emergency basis to take serious patients to the hospital and buy essential things of survival on double fare. The main road to Chitral town has been cut off at Shasha leaving passengers either to take via Parsan route or pass dangerous walking route over the flood river. In consequence of flash floods, the people face the following major problems:


a) People running short of basic things of survival, like flour, sugar, cooking oil, and medicine.
b) The most important crops from a money point of view are potatoes and peas as major income of these areas are not being sold and transported even to the regional market. This is going to be a beating and trouncing loss to the people.
c) In most places, for instance in the above villages, the heavy floods have hit the crops and washed them away, leaving stony and infertile one.
d) In Siwhat and Hasanabad, the main Karimabad road cannot be re-constructed without compensation to the poor land owners. This is again beyond the affordability of the local people.
e) At least six families are now homeless. They are to be supported.
f) Telephone exchange at Breshgram is not in function due to unavailability of diesel and damages of channels of the local power stations.

The people of this area now make a special application to MNA, MPA and the District Government for funds to construct alternative road immediately and compensate for the abovementioned detrimental at their earliest. --Ismail Khan Karimabad, Kiyar,16 Aug 10

 

Flood woes of Karimabad -letter2

 

I wish to communicate the voice of the people of Karimabad valley to the respectable representatives of the district and the province.

Like all other regions of the district the valley of Karimabad is badly destroyed by the recent floods and land sliding. The people of Karimabad area are in a miserable condition. The thing which is of more concern for them and also for me is the condition of the main karimabad road from Shasha onnward to Karimabad valley. The road is completely destroyed and also are all the bridges. The valley is completely cut off from the rest of the District. There are students blocked in these areas who have to move to their colleges and schools (specially female students). Things are getting worse and when we look for hospital in case of emergency there is no medical unit in this whole valley, and one has to move out of this valley to reach a hospital.

My appeal is to the Minister and MNA to announce some special and emergency fund for the reconstruction of roads and bridges so that people can be out of danger and feel safe, which is their basic right. This is the most important issue which unfortunately is not in the notice of our respectable representatives. --Asghar Ali, Sunich Karimabad,17 Aug  10
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Flood woes of Karimabad -letter3
First of all I wish to thank Mr. Asghar Ali of Sunich Karimabad to highlight & bring the current scenario of Karimabad. It is very sorry to say that no any Provincial/National or International print & electronic media has highlighted & given enough coverage to these terrible days which tremendously affected the whole infrastructure system of Chitral & especially Karimabad valley. The local media is constantly highlighting the main water supply project till its spill ways at Angargoon. No any local media official or the representatives of National/Provincial print/electronic media have dared to visit physically further the cutoff road at Shasha to onward. The beautiful places and villages have completely shown different picture from its current existence. Main road to Garumchashma, Arkary & Karimabad valley including all the main jeep able bridges have completely damaged & washout by the recent horrible flash flood. No one from the local community is daring to come forward to raise his/her voice to the concern authority or media. The main road at Shasha is completely cut-off, indeed earlier there was possibility to cross at one place by foot, now there is no any chance to cross it by foot. The main road has cut off in three different places people who are coming to cross the road by foot are taking serious risk & are playing with their precious life, God forbid in one place some has to cross the stair & to jump to a hill if your foot got slip then someone can directly jump down into the river. Some one can dare to visit to onward Shoghore – Siwakht you will cry while seeing the situation damages of houses, damages of standing crops , green jungles & destroying of different types of fruit trees in the whole area of Siwakht-I/II, Hassanabad & Kherjum village. Irrigation channels, Powerhouses, main clean drinking water supply line have completely damaged. Standing crops which were saved have now burn out having no watering since long. Main bridges at Zokhseer, Siwakht-I,II, Hassanabad & main bridge to Hingeel Karimabad have destroyed having no identity of its existing site. Within Karimabad valley so many bridges, jungle the only source of firewood of the poor people, fruit trees & standing crops have been wash out by the recent horrifying flash flood. Poor people are travelling via Parsan valley the only alternate long route while paying double fare. How can one imagine about the poorest of the poor having no house, no standing crops & having no fruit trees in his view. What about students both male female?, what about patients? What about daily their routine basic commodities? Please for the God sake the media both print & electronic the local, National, Provincial & International media just see the real situation over here & highlight the current horrible situation in the real sense into the notice of the local & international community. Through your esteemed local leading print media I would like to bring into the kind notice of GEO news & BBC please send your representative into these area to see the real scenario and condition of the people of the area to further coverage and support through Govt. Agencies & International donor Agencies. --Mir Hussain, Chitral 18 Aug 10.

 

Flood woes of Karimabad -letter4

This is with reference to the letters from Mr Ismail, Asghar and Mir Hussain describing the flood damage and consequences in the Karimabad valley. I must thank the three writers for bringing up the facts and figures and the true reflection of the ground situation and positively asking the Chitral administration and the elected representatives for the response and the relief work. The valley comprising of more than 2500 households and 20,000 population is completely disconnected with the district headquarter due to road damage at Shahsha, and the PTCL telephone services are not working as well. The three writers have mentioned about the immediate damage of houses, crops, livestock, forest reserve and the lands and have reflected upon the consequences of the situation.

 

 Like many other parts of Chitral, in this valley most of the households are living on the meager yearly income cycle associated with the farming and without much cushion to protect in case of emergency. With recent floods most of the crops have damaged and due to the collapse to the road network they are not able to take cash crops like fruits, potato and vegetables to the market within and outside chitral. This means nearly 50% of the households are at risk of getting into extreme poverty situation.

 

The local people on self help basis have repaired and restored an alternate road linking Susum valley with Parsan and Chitral and similarly the road from Garamchashma to Shogore has been repaired by the local community. I am not sure of the district administration plan to restore garamchashma/ Susum/ road; how long it is going to take to repair the road at Shasha; what are the plans to compensate for the food security in these areas before harsh winter sets in; what measures to be taken to compensate for the loss of houses and farming land. We all know in this critical situation the whole country and the nation is suffering and directly or indirectly affected but we all have to combine our available resources with what Government can compliment to come out of this critical situation. May God bless us with the strength and patience to stand with this difficult situation...Ameen.


The section 144 imposed by the district Government seems to be even more damaging than the flood devastation. According to the law suddenly imposed, the pea vegetable (mutter) from the valley can’t be transported outside Chitral that means the profit margin that a poor farmer can earn by selling the peas in the major cities of Peshawar and Rawalpindi is not possible. In Pakistan the local products of any district have access to the open market and it encourages the local farmers to grow the product and to meet household expenses from the earnings. This law is not to protect the poor farmers who have worked very hard to grow the vegetable and at time of selling and earning, the district Government is coming with this new rule. The poor farmers from this valley request the provincial and the district Government to help them accessing the major market and sell vegetables .--Danish Qayyum, Susum Karimabad, 19 Aug 10


 

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