PESHAWAR: Glacier outbreak in remote mountainous areas of Chitral not only threaten infrastructure but also the lives of millions of people, and experts add that it is creating food insecurity as the flash floods have destroyed fertile agriculture lands.
There are about 700 glaciers in Malakand Division, of which 45 are extremely dangerous due to the climate change. The authorities have launched an awareness campaign; however, glacier eruptions increase water flow to such extents that it is impossible to control it.
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), with the help of United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), has been planting trees in Chitral and Swat’s Gabral area to minimise the damage from glaciers eruption. Moreover, committees have been set up to rehabilitate the irrigation channel affected by flash floods. The committee, after presenting a detailed report on the damage caused by glaciers in these areas, will reconstruct the channel with financial support from UNDP.
Former tehsil nazim of Dir Bala area of Kalkot and member of Glacial Lake Outburst Floods (GLOF) Committee Taj Bar Khan Kohistani said that there are several glaciers in the upper areas of Kumrat which can erupt anytime due to environmental pollution and climate change. To reduce the damage caused by the eruption and to save the local population from this catastrophe, GLOF has set up a committee for the construction of drains and irrigation channels in the area. He said that steps are also being taken for the protection of forests.
General Secretary of Disaster Risk Management Society (DRMS) Goleen, Waliur Rehman said that his ancestors have been living in the Goleen for three centuries and there have been occasional floods due to glacier eruptions. “But now there are currently 54 glaciers in Goleen valley that can erupt,” Rehman said. “It is expected to cause more damage to villages now.”
Rehman added that whenever a glacier erupts, they volunteer to patrol the area at night and monitor the flow of water and if the water level rises, the locals are told to relocate from the area.
He added that the pipelines laid for the supply of clean drinking water and irrigation water have also been affected. As a result, agriculture and the supply of drinking water have remained suspended for weeks. Rehman said that the floods caused a lot of destruction in the area in terms of deaths, livestock loss and damage to infrastructure.