GILGIT (ET): A German woman has approached Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) chief secretary, complaining about the illegal construction of a lodge at the base camp of Nanga Parbat.
With a height of 8,126 metres, Nanga Parbat, also known as ‘The Killer Mountain’, is the second highest mountain peak of Pakistan and the ninth highest in the world. It is located in the Himalayan mountain range in the Diamer valley of G-B.
“Last year I was informed about the illegal construction of a lodge at Nanga Parbat Base camp West Face (Diamer/Bunar side),” wrote Marianne Klies from Germany to G-B Chief Secretary Sajad Hottiana in an email which Hottiana shared with his friends on his facebook account.
“Since summer last year, I am in contact with various Pakistani authorities, including former deputy commissioner Sibtain Ahmad, trying to prevent this illegal project. It damages and disturbs the peaceful environment of this completely untouched location at 4,200 metres. The locals do not want or need this building; on the contrary they find it disturbing.”
She said despite promises to stop or demolish the construction, no action has been taken.
In her email, Klies further wrote that the construction was done on the orders of a well-known Italian climber, Simone Moro, who constructed the lodge to help him during his winter climbing trips.
Klies said she met the G-B chief secretary in March when he was in Berlin to attend a cultural event.
“I remember your interesting presentation during the event, showing the beauty of natural wilderness of your country and pointing out future prospects for tourism and preserving nature.”
She said she has been travelling to Pakistan every year since 2005, staying for three months in the north, mainly the Gilgit-Baltistan’s Diamer region. “I have gone on many treks and done some voluntary work. I know the country and its people very well.”
She said the European trekkers who went to the site complained about the construction activities, afraid that this will set a negative example and soon others will follow.
“There have already been protests against this. People going there want nature and not houses.”
“I as Chief Secretary cannot sit back. Nanga Parbat is a world heritage. I have told her that everything will be done in a transparent manner,” Hottiana said.
He has asked the director of the Environmental Protection Agency to submit a report within one week. “Follow the law strictly and give a fair opportunity to all parties within the mandatory time frame,” he said.
GILGIT (Dawn): The State Bank of Pakistan will establish its office in Gilgit to resolve financial matters of the region.
Sources in the administration said a three-member delegation comprising Chief Minister Syed Mehdi Shah, Senior Minister Mohammad Jaffar and Chief Secretary Sajad Salim Hottiana met the SBP governor in Karachi to discuss the possibility of opening the branch of the central bank in GB.
They said matters pertaining to finance and other related issues came under discussion.
They added that all provinces were entitled to have an overdraft from the SBP, but GB was lacking this facility.
The officials said the SBP governor assured the GB representatives of ensuring an overdraft of Rs5 billion to the GB government in order to meet financial demands of the area.
Sources said the GB delegation also discussed possibility of setting up region’s own bank like other provinces. The SBP head also assured to extend help in this regard.
FINANCIAL PACKAGE: The federal finance minister has assured to release Rs5 billion package for Gilgit-Baltistan before the interim government is installed in Islamabad to help end financial woes of the region.
This was disclosed by GB Finance Minister Mohammad Ali Akhtar while talking to Dawn.
He said those speaking of rolling back the political reforms package to GB lived in fool’s paradise. He said his meeting with the federal finance minister was fruitful.
He said soon the region will have its own Public Service Commission as well as Services Tribunal which were the result of the political reforms package.
Gilgit: On 13th February 2012 local community members of the Doyan valley in Astore District of Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan spotted a group of four snow leopards near their village. Astonishingly the shy cats remained at the same location till 14th February, and the community members Mr. Naseer ur Rehman and others informed Gilgit-Baltistan Wildlife Department about the sighting and continued show up of the animals. Upon the advice of Mr. Willayat Noor, Conservator Parks and Wildlife Gilgit-Baltistan and Mr. Aftab Mehmood, Divisional Forest Officer Wildlife Gilgit-Baltistan, the community members ventured to photograph the illusive felids. On 14th February, Mr. Naseer of Doyan Community and Mr. Farooq, Game Inspector of the Gilgit-Baltistan Wildlife Department were able to take some pictures and videos of the cats. According to Mr. Naseer, they were about 100 meters away from the cats on the other side of Astore river, while looking at them and taking photographs.
Human encounter with snow leopard in the rugged mountainous area of Gilgit-Baltistan and the neighborhood has been fascinatingly expressed by wildlife enthusiasts, biologists, government officials and local community members. The incidences have been quite often reported for the last couple of years when the local communities in Gilgit-Baltistan had proactively started wildlife watch and ward activities in their respective valleys.
Doyan valley is one of the twenty-four Community Managed Conservation Areas (CMCAs) notified by the Government of Gilgit-Baltistan as part of the community-based conservation efforts in the region. The conservation programme in Doyan valley was started in late 1990s and in 2004 local communities formed a community-based organization namely Doyan Valley Conservation and Development Organization (DVCDO). The valley was notified as CMCA in 2004 and first permit for trophy hunting of Astore Markhor (Capra falconeri falconeri) was granted in 2008-2009. Remembering the venture of the first trophy hunt in his village Mr. Naseer recounts that “a British hunter namely Malkom King came to our village during the winters of 2009 and prior to his hunt the trophy size animal was hunted by a snow leopard, we were deprived of USD 36000 but we never thought of taking revenge from the cat”. Mr. Naseer proudly added that “we kept our efforts continued in conserving wildlife species in the village and the same hunter came again in 2010 and succeeded in hunting a big Markhor (41” horn size), for which the community got Pak Rupees 3.1 million. Now every one of us in the village is a guardian of wildlife, therefore, not only the Markhor, but we are also taking care of snow leopards”.
Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) is bestowed with exceptional natural areas comprising of lofty peaks, enormous glaciers, alpine meadows, gushing rivers and streams, high altitude lakes, stunning landscapes and beautiful patches of old alpine forests. All these features together constitute an astonishing but fragile mountain ecosystem, providing basic livelihoods to its inhabitants such as food, fiber, shelter, medicine, etc. Simultaneously these mountain ecosystems are sheltering a magnitude of rare and endangered species of flora and fauna. To name a few are animals such as Snow leopard, Astore markhor, Himalayan ibex, Musk deer, Brown and Black bear, Woolly flying squirrel, Tibetan grey wolf, Red fox, Himalayan lynx and numerous species of birds including Ram chakor, chakor, snow partridge, golden eagle, Himalayan griffin, etc. Similarly the rivers, streams and high altitude lakes are splendid with aquatic life dominated by the famous trout fish, Eurasian otter and migratory waterfowl frequenting at certain places.
Keeping in view the extraordinary natural wealth of the mountainous areas, the Government of Gilgit Baltistan has brought certain ecologically rich areas under the net of protected areas by notifying five national parks, three wildlife sanctuaries, seven game reserves and twenty-four community-managed conservation areas, covering some 30,000 km2 , almost half of the total land area of GB. These protected areas aim to conserve species of special concern and their habitats while linking the conservation benefits with the livelihoods of local communities side by side generating avenues of income for the provincial and national economies.
Initiated from a pilot project in Bar valley of Hunza-Nagar District, some 20 years back by WWF Pakistan and the GB Wildlife Department, the community based conservation programme has now been a widespread environmental movement in Gilgit-Baltistan.
ISLAMABAD (D.Times): The Asian Development Bank (ADB), the lead financer of the Diamer-Bhasha Dam on Tuesday suggested Pakistan to focus on resolution of revenue sharing issue between Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and Gilgit Baltistan (GB) as well as affected population and address issues of environment degradation for smooth execution of the mega project.
ADB’s Head of Energy Division Rune Stroem while speaking to a select group of journalists along with the ADB’s Country Director to Pakistan Werner Liepach after conclusion of his visit to Pakistan aimed at ‘critically reviewing the mega project’. He said, “ADB is fully aware that there will be strong debate on revenue sharing and ADB can give advice but at the end the issue will have to be decided by the Council of Common Interests.” The KP government is disputing over the ownership of 18 kilometres long belt with GB government in a bid to get share in income from the power generation. The GB legislative assembly has passed the resolution against the provincial government claim and intends to take the matter to the Supreme Court if it is not amicably resolved.
“Pakistan has not been focusing on social aspects of the project as much as one could hope,” Stroem said and added that the success of the project hangs on local people satisfaction with resettlement activities. “The resettlement work has been done but still there are gaps where the government needs to bring in improvement as per international standards,” he added.
Explaining the gaps, Stroem said individual activities were going on at relatively small scale and lots of pilot projects have been initiated. He said the legal dispute over sharing of revenues between GB and KP has to be worked through and on environment no sufficient work has been done yet.
Stroem said there was a need to ensure minimum water flows during storage to offset negative impact on the environment. He said no water flows at the time of construction and storage will have adverse affects.
Having an estimated cost of $11.20 billion the project is planned to be completed in 12 years that will generate 4,500 megawatts (MW) electricity besides storing 8.5 million acres feet water for agriculture purposes. The project’s groundbreaking has been performed twice. The ADB official said that the agency has not yet fully assessed the price and completion period but the total cost may change due to price escalation.
Stroem said that an unwritten agreement has been reached with the government. According to that the ADB will play its role as senior lender, co-financer and will be the financial adviser to Pakistan on the project. He said next week both the parties will review the draft of the Memorandum of Understanding that clearly defines the role of the ADB in project execution.
He said the project can’t be donor-driven instead the government is the primary driver and it’s cognizant of the fact. The ADB was helping the government to structure the project and make it bankable. “It is the most complex and the most comprehensive project the ADB has ever financed.”
Liepach said that the ADB has not yet framed clear views on the dam financing requirements but the export credit will be major source of financing. Other than the export credit the international financial institutions and commercial financing would also be availed to complete the project, he added. Stroem said the Water and Power Development Authority will evaluate the bids for the project but the ADB will also review to ensure transparency. The ADB has strong anti-corruption policies and the agency’s involvement will give more credit to the project, he added.
Gilgit—All is set to commemorate 64th Independence Day of Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) as arrangements to observe the day in a befitting manner have been finalized. The day would dawn with special prayers for the solidarity and integrity of the country while later colorful events would be organized to pay rich tributes to the liberation movement heroes.
The main function would be organized here in Chinar Bagh where Governor GB Syed Pir karam Ali Shah would be the chief guest.—APP
Unarmed people of Gilgit-Baltistan, on November 1, 1947, fought a fierce battle against Dogra Raj and forced the Dogra Commander-in-chief Ghansara Singh to flee. Gilgit-Baltistan, after getting freedom from Dogra Raj, decided to affiliate with Pakistan.
FREEDOM IN THE MIND,
FAITH IN THE WORDS,
PRIDE IN OUR HEARTS &
MEMORIES IN OUR SOULS…
THE People of Gilgit-Baltistan On Their 64th INDEPENNDENCE DAY!
ISLAMABAD: The lowering of water level of the artificial Attabad Lake will cost Rs660 million, concluded a meeting presided by the finance minister on Monday.
Abdul Hafeez Shaikh held a meeting with Frontier Works Organization (FWO) and the National Highway Authority (NHA) to discuss the progress of two projects regarding Attabad Lake as well as the re-alignment of different sections of Karakorum Highway (KKH).
The minister stressed the timely completion of the projects and discussed different financial matters faced by FWO, NHA and other departments concerned regarding the projects.
A massive landslide occurred on July 4 last year near the Attabad village in Hunza Valley, causing a heavy loss of life and property. The landslide blocked River Hunza, which resulted in the formation of a lake, besides inundating about a two-kilometre long stretch of KKH.
The Attabad Lake and the damaged road network of KKH have proven to be a major obstacle for the trade between Pakistan and China. The completion of the two projects is key to utilising the existing trade and energy potential of Gilgit-Baltistan.
The meeting comes just days after President Asif Ali Zardari held a meeting and ordered to expedite the realignment of the damaged portion of KKH, for which funds had been provided by China.
GILGIT: A project, the first of its kind in Gilgit-Baltistan, prepared by a student of Karakoram International University (KIU) has been approved for an annual award.
“DNA testing and GPS position of snow leopard genetic material in Gilgit-Baltistan” is the project that was scrutinised and nominated for an award by the scientific committee of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), said a university spokesperson. The project was submitted by Nilofer, a student of KIU who prepared it with help from the Associate Dean Dr Khalil Ahmed. He said that the International Snow Leopard Trust and WWF sponsored the student for the research project, which is the first of its kind in a region where the rare snow leopard faces extinction. Environmentalists say most incidents in which snow leopards are targeted are reprisal attacks following attacks on livestock.
Last week, a snow leopard was beaten to death by the people of Mathal, a remote village in Skardu, after the ageing cat broke into a cattle house. Locals managed to protect their cattle, but seriously injured the leopard. It died in the forest department’s custody. The International Snow Leopard Trust will give the student US$8,000 while the WWF will provide Rs200,000.