Gilgit-Baltistan:Traders want Drainage of Ataabad Lake

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By Muhammad Ali, President GBIE

Gilgit (News): I want to highlight a problem which the dwellers and businessmen of Gilgit-Baltistan have been facing since January 2010 after the formation of an artificial lake at Attabad in District Hunza Nagar. The people of upstream areas remained cut off from the rest of the district for several months and this would have continued if not for the local businessmen who provided some relief by starting a ferry service. Patients, students and other affected people who use this ferry service are still provided free transportation. The 19-km long Karakoram Highway (KKH), the sole overland connection between China and Pakistan, was submerged. Due to this catastrophe, cross-border trade between the two countries has declined badly. The local businesses are ruined while the business community has gone bankrupt due to huge loans. The Sost Dry Port (SDP), which used to generate income from taxes, customs duties and other levies, is now on the verge of collapse, causing a loss of billions of rupees to the national exchequer.

The federal and provincial governments are showing reluctance to drain the lake and realign the KKH. A huge amount was reportedly given to the Frontier Works Organisation to lower the lake’s surface and restore the KKH, but they have failed to do so till now. It seems the FWO has neither the machinery nor the technical expertise to handle this problem. On behalf of the Importers and Exporters Association of Gilgit-Baltistan, I request the authorities concerned to pay heed to this situation and resolve this problem.

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