[News] Hunza lake poses threat to Tarbela dam
March 10, 2010 2 Comments
ISLAMABAD, March 9: Breaches in the 15km-long and 60 metre-deep lake that was formed after a landslide in Hunza could wreak havoc all the way down to Tarbela dam.
Fearing a disaster, the environment ministry has called for preparation of an emergency plan to cope with a possible flood which may affect the population and infrastructure along the Hunza/Indus river valley from Attabad to Tarbela.
“Preparations must start immediately,” the ministry said.
The warning was issued by the ministry on Tuesday at a meeting held to review the situation in the aftermath of a massive landslide that hit Attabad in Hunza on Jan 4. It claimed 19 lives and formed a lake that cut off more than 25,000 people living upstream from communities living downstream.
Hunza river is one of the main tributaries feeding the lake whose water level is rising furiously by two feet every day.
An outburst in the lake would throw up a large flood wave that could travel downstream as far as Tarbela Dam, the meeting, presided over by Environment Minister Hameedullah Jan Afridi, was informed.
It will endanger the downstream population and can cause substantive damage to infrastructure and livelihood all the way down to the dam.
Gilgit-Baltistan Chief Secretary Babar Fateh Yaqoob and Home Secretary Mohammad Usman informed the meeting that spillways had been raised and emergency arrangements made to cope with the situation. Measures like relocation of the affected people, monitoring of alert systems and availability of fund, food and medicines were under way, they said.
The meeting called for safety of downstream communities, constant monitoring of the water level in dam, effective communication and evacuation plans and development of an early warning system and a 24-hour monitoring service.
The meeting urged the government to seek assistance and expertise from China to mitigate the threat.
APP adds: The environment minister asked the authorities concerned to prepare a foolproof plan if the lake burst out. “Lives of the people are important for us. We need a comprehensive study and plan for expected damage and rescue efforts,” Mr Afridi said, adding that he would seek support from the Chinese government to release water from Hunza river. The water level in the lake had risen to 213 feet on Tuesday and was rising by two feet daily. The situation will become more dangerous with increased inflow after melting of snow as temperature usually rises by at least four degree Celsius in April.
The meeting was informed that people living up to a height of 50 feet would be vulnerable. Moreover, the increase in water flow in coming months would aggravate the threat if water already accumulated was not released, it was told. source