Published On: Fri, Sep 25th, 2015

Glacial lake outburst floods become more frequent in Bagrot valley of Gilgit

Manzar Shigri

GILGIT: It is almost two months now that a majority of the 16,000-strong population of Bargot valley in Gilgit are forced to live without electricity as the Rs350 million two mega watt hydel power project has become non-operational.

Bagrot Valley is about 45kms away in the north-east of Gilgit town.

Shahid Hussain, a resident says on July 26 a sudden flood, which is known as glacial lake outburst flood or GLOF lashed the valley that destroyed the water pipeline connected with the hydel project. Hence, the power generation stopped and there is no electricity in Bagrot Valley since then. Besides, the road leading to the plant has also been damaged.

Since the residents are now dependent on firewood to carry out their household activities, this has increased the cutting of trees, resulting in deforestation and ultimately flooding.

It is almost two months now that a majority of the 16,000-strong population of Bargot valley in Gilgit are forced to live without electricity

It is almost two months now that a majority of the 16,000-strong population of Bargot valley in Gilgit are forced to live without electricity

Khadim Hussain, assistant director, Department of Environmental Protection Agnecy (EPA) Gilgit, Baltistan told The Nature News that Bagrot Valley is surrounded by the mountains and beside five major glacier, many small size glaciers are also present on these mountains.

“People of the area have been cutting the trees – custodians of the glaciers – ruthlessly since decades, as there is no alternate source for domestic fuel” said Hussain.

According to him, the continuous decline in natural forestation, global warming as a result of climate change, as well as pollution has caused the melting of small and large glaciers.

“When there is excessive heat or intensity in monsoon rains, the fragile parts of glacier lakes are broken and caused sudden flood,” says Hussain.

Meanwhile, Nasir, a native of Farpo village says their potato and other vegetable crops were ready but due to dilapidated roads it is difficult to transport them to the markets.

“The only source of our bread and butter is these crops,” he says.

In order to save Bagrot from continuous disasters, the government in collaboration with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) has established early warning system, the Glacial Lake Outburst Flood (GLOF) Early Warning project.

Continuous decline in natural forestation and global warming as a result of climate change has caused the melting of small and large glaciers

Continuous decline in natural forestation and global warming as a result of climate change has caused the melting of small and large glaciers

Project Director GLOF Zahid Hussain told The Nature News that under the project, steps have been taken to train the people to save them from floods besides ensuring safer places for the people in times of floods.

Pakistan Meteorological Department has also placed modern system on glaciers to check the temperature and issue GLOF warning.

“The locals have also established a society to protect the natural forestation of the area responsible for safeguard the glaciers,” reveals 56-year-old Syed Mujtuba, an area dweller. “We hope if we could succeed in preserving natural environment this could minimise the pace of glacier melting, as well as lessening the damages of the local people.”

Bagrot Valley is about 45kms away in the north-east of Gilgit town.

Bagrot Valley is about 45kms away in the north-east of Gilgit town.

This article has been published in arrangement with NCEJ as part of its training in Gilgit on “Reporting impacts of climate change on communities”

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