Gilgit-Baltistan: Winter woes of GB

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Gilgit (ET): Following a fresh spell of rain and snowfall, temperatures in Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) dropped to as low as four degrees below freezing point in parts of the mountainous region, adding to resident’s miseries.

According to the meteorological department, temperatures in Skardu, Astore, Gojal, Hunza and Gilgit fell at or below freezing points. The resultant chilly weather impacted budgets when residents were forced to buy either wood, LPG or kerosene oil to keep themselves warm. “It’s an additional burden on us. The weather has weighed heavily on our resources since we cannot afford to stay warm without heat inside,” said Waqas Khawar, a worker at a private company. He added that he had to spend an additional Rs10,000 to purchase firewood and oil, stating that for the winter season, heating related expenses climb to Rs30,000 each year.

Besides climbing rates, availability of firewood is on a shortfall this winter due to the government’s ban on transportation of firewood from Diamer District to the rest of the country. The ban is usually lifted in January every year, according to Naushad Khan, a vendor of wood.

The weather has been cloudy for the past four days due to which Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) suspended its flights to the mountain region leaving passengers stranded. Usama Wali, a medical college student at Lahore, waiting for PIA flight in Gilgit stated that “I fear I will not be able to reach my college on time.”

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