CHITRAL: “If you want to save the plains of Pakistan, then rush to save Chitral at first. This is the message and motto of our awareness campaign through which we want to expose the impending dangers to the whole country, emanating from melting of glaciers to deforestation in Chitral,” said Sartaj Ahmad Khan, convener of “Save Chitral, save Pakistan” campaign.
Talking to Dawn here on Sunday, he said that during the past couple of decades, unprecedented flash floods in Chitral inflicted losses on infrastructure worth of billions of rupees besides inundating thousands of acres of fertile land and bringing life activities to a standstill for many weeks.
Mr Khan said that no effort was made to stem the tide by the successive governments as a result of which the situation was becoming worse both in Chitral and other parts of the country.
Convener of ‘Save Chitral, Save Pakistan’ campaign says floods inflicted losses on infrastructure
He said that the Chitral River re-entered the plains of the country near Peshawar, where it was named as the Kabul River, after passing through Afghanistan. “Flood in the Chitral River causes flood in Peshawar valley and downstream,” he added.
Mr Khan said that Chitral was home to 540 glaciers which fed different tributaries of the Chitral River and the phenomenon of glacial lake outburst floods (GLOF) wiped out a number of villages in the summer season causing high flood in the river.
“The high floods in the Chitral River also caused silting of both Warsak and Tarbela dams which are fed by the river water and thereby reduce their life span,”
Mr Khan said, adding that steps should be taken to stop melting down of glaciers on war footings.
“The flash floods are the direct effect of deforestation at large scale while the local people have no alternative sources to fulfil their growing needs of both timber for construction and fuel for heating and cooking,”
Mr Khan said that both flash floods and the GLOF in Chitral were man-made disasters to a great extent for which remedial measures could be taken but it was not possible without addressing the basic needs of the local people, who must be provided with alternative means and ways to utilise the natural resources.
Mr Khan said that Chitral acted as water reservoir for the plains of the country and its disturbance to any degree could lead to a colossal loss and it was driving force behind the campaign launched in Chitral.
Mr Khan said that the campaign was aimed at highlighting the danger and diverting the attention of the government towards it for which different modes of expression were being adopted including seminars, walks and protest processions.