GILGIT: A landslide triggered by heavy rain has damaged many houses in Borgay Kushmara area of Skardu town in Gilgit-Baltistan.
HunzaNews, April 4, 2015.
According to locals, the landslide hit the region on Wednesday. At least seven houses were damaged while over three dozen trees were swept away. The landslide dealt a critical blow to the agriculture sector, which is the mainstay of the local economy.
“The villagers returned to the fields on Wednesday after heavy rain lashed the region over a few days,” said Muhammad Ismail, a resident.
“However, at 5pm, a landslide hit the area, causing damage to the agricultural land.”
Houses and trees were flattened by heavy boulders, spreading a wave of panic in the area.
“No one was injured,” Ismail said. “Although a man and his grandson were sitting inside a house which was hit by a boulder, they managed to escape unhurt.”
Following the incident, residents raised serious concerns over the reconstruction of their houses.
“The villagers are poor and can’t afford to reconstruct their houses,” Ismail said. “Only the government can help us.”
For a majority of residents, the fear of being rendered homeless for a long time looms large.
“We are certain that the government and NGOs will help us,” said another resident. “However, there are likely to be considerable delays in this regard.”
Tahir Rana, programme manager at Al-Khidmat Foundation, told The Express Tribune his organisation will provide food stock for at least two months to the affected families.
Meanwhile, the government has also decided to compensate residents. According to an assessment prepared by the assistant commissioner in Skardu, a family whose house has been completely destroyed by the landslide will receive Rs30,000. A family whose house is partially damaged will receive Rs15,000.
However, residents believe the compensation package is far too inadequate to address their needs.
“The amount is insufficient,” said Imtiaz Haider, a social activist in Skardu. “It won’t even cover the cost of minor repairs, let alone reconstruction work.
Nobody even knows how long it will take for the families to receive the amount.”
Haider urged the government to adjust the compensation package in accordance with market rates and immediately provide assistance to the affected population.
Published in The Express Tribune