Miacher Valley: And the slopes keep cracking from side to side
GILGIT: Cracks in the slopes of Gilgit-Baltistan’s (G-B) Miacher valley have widened in a week’s time. This is a new development is giving rise to fears of an imminent disaster.
Located about 70 kilometres from Gilgit, the mountain slopes in Miacher Valley are laden with cracks that seem ready to give way. Failure of the slopes is expected to block Hunza River and drown many adjacent settlements in its wake.
“The cracks are about 50 to 250 metres in length in the lower strata of the rocks and have shown an abrupt increase of two to three inches in the last week,” said Mujahid Ali Shah, a professor at Karakoram International University. Shah, a landscape ecologist trained from the University of Greifswald, has warned of a disaster 10 times worse than the one that struck Attabad four years ago and killed 19 people.
Talking to The Express Tribune, Shah said that he had been monitoring the situation all of last month. “This may be happening because of the temperature as it has gone above zero degrees Celsius,” he said. “The increase in temperature is causing the frozen water bank in the bottom slope to melt.”
Shah, who is a resident of Nagar Valley, said he noticed changes taking place rapidly in the slopes. “At least nine springs have sprung up in the lowest part of the area, discharging water into Hunza River,” he said. “This indicates that the situation is not getting back to normal.”
He added that the clay brought down by the spring has darkened the colour of Hunza River and if temperature goes up to 4 degree Celsius it could trigger a major slope failure in the lower patch.
After the issue was highlighted in the media, a team of experts from the University of Peshawar reached the area to monitor the situation. In addition, volunteers from the Naunehal Development Organisation, an NGO, moved in to help the people in case of an emergency.
On Thursday, the assistant commissioner of Hunza-Nagar district and Finance Minister Mohammad Ali Akhar visited the area as panic spread in the valley over a possible disaster.
“I can’t say the situation is satisfactory,” Mohammad Ali Akhar told The Express Tribune over the phone on Friday. “The government is doing its job but I want an emergency to be declared in the area and people should be dealt with accordingly in terms of rehabilitation,” he said.
Akhar, who visited the cracked slopes, confirmed that the gaps have widened considerably over the weeks and are likely to give way to a potential disaster.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 22nd, 2014.