Chinese proposal for Attabad lake accepted by govt

ISLAMABAD: After facing considerable criticism over inundation of populated areas by the swelling Attabad lake in Gilgit-Baltistan, the government has finally agreed to a strategy put forth by Chinese government to overcome the problem in future.

The strategy was discussed at a high-level meeting at the Presidency which was presided over by President Asif Ali Zardari and attended by Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and Chief of Army Staff Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani.

Sources in the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) said that Chinese experts had visited Attabad lake a few months ago when it started swelling and suggested several steps to avoid flooding, including controlled blasting.

However, local experts in the Federal Flood Commission (FFC) disagreed with the Chinese experts and proposed some long-term measures. Meanwhile, the lake inundated nearby villages, forcing people to vacate their homes.

Spokesman for the president Farhatullah Babar told Dawn on Wednesday that following President Zardari’s visit to China the Chinese government said it was ready to help Pakistan in undertaking the rehabilitation work and asked Islamabad to decide on the options available.

The two options that the Pakistani authorities had been debating were; one to make a by-pass and two, to lower the level of the water to 30 metres, he said.

“The decisions made at the meeting were a follow up of the president’s visit to China early this month in which the president also raised the issue with the Chinese political leaders at the highest level and sought Chinese assistance in this regard,” the spokesman said.

The Wednesday’s meeting considered options available to rehabilitate the Attabad lake and restore the damaged portion of the Karkoram Highway (KKH) and decided to resort to controlled blasting to lower the water level in the lake for undertaking the necessary rehabilitation works and restoration of normal life in the affected areas.

Briefing the media about the meeting, the spokesman said it was decided to start a large and fast speed ferry service capable of ferrying big machines and merchandise. Source

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