Published On: Mon, Aug 24th, 2015

Climate change causes natural disasters in Gilgit-Baltistan

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Nature has blessed Gilgit-Baltistan with many natural resources, including glaciers, minerals and forests. But unfortunately, negligence of the government and certain actions by the locals has led the region facing severe natural disasters.

Abdul Hussain Nagri
Residents for their needs, i.e. to make firewood and burn this firewood to cook food, and earning livelihood have cut the region’s forests excessively. A majority of forests have been cut, which has led to deforestation in the region.

Similarly, in the last few years, explosives and chemical substances have been used heavily to extract minerals from the mountains. Mineral reservoirs are found near glaciers and the use of dynamite has a direct impact on the glacier – there is great danger of bursting lakes.

About 30 years ago when icebergs melted from the glaciers, the trees in the region stopped the area from getting flooded. However, today, due to arid deforestation this floodwater flows directly into residential areas of nearby villages. This also makes the lakes present beneath the glaciers vulnerable.

One can illustrate the point by the recent floods in Chitral and G-B which killed 32 people, hundreds of thousands of people were displaced and animals died. Hundreds of bridges and roads were also destroyed with people being deprived of basic necessities.

The implications of this situation are a lot worse than one can imagine. People start migrating to safer places or urban areas, and the low-lying areas also damage the irrigation system and transportation system, creating poverty. Floods also destroy natural resources such as forests and biological diversity, which create fast imbalance in local and global environmental situation.

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According to a survey, G-B which is at crossroads of Mount Karakoram, Hindu Kush and the Himalayas, has over 5,218 glaciers. There are no major rivers located and this area has the distinction to have the biggest collection of glaciers in the world. There are almost 1,500 glaciers with sparkling drinking water. About 2,420 glaciers have lakes but 52 of them have been declared dangerous, and can burst any time.

Bursting of lakes is not only a big threat to the existing infrastructure, mass transportation, communication, land, forests, animals and cattle but they are serious risk and danger to precious human lives as well.

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