Melting glaciers pose serious environmental threat

24th Mar, 2018 | Tourism Mail Crew

ISLAMABAD, Mar 24:Thirty-six glacial lakes in various valleys of Gilgit-Baltistan have been declared dangerous. At least seven of them pose a major threat to the people, said a survey by Focus Pakistan, an NGO.

After conducting the survey, experts attending a seminar in Islamabad said Gilgit-Baltistan is highly vulnerable to climate change.

The surge of the Khurdopin Glacier in Shimshal Valley, Hunza, and the formation of a lake, has emerged as a major cause of concern for geologists and local residents.

Dr. Nazeer Ahmed of Focus Pakistan said, “The Khurdopin Glacier has touched the mountain which has formed a small lake. The lake is freezed at the moment, but from March onward, when the ice starts melting, the flow of water would be intense. We are not predicting immense damage, but footbridges and Shimshal Valley, which is very narrow in nature; the road there might get affected”.

Officials from Gilgit Baltistan Disaster Management Authority, who were present during the seminar, are seeking to install an alarm devise to protect villagers in the event of any disaster.

Mujahi Khan of the Gilgit Baltistan Disaster Management Authority said, “We are inviting a group of geologists and experts from NDMA (National Disaster Management Authority) for an inspection and to seek their recommendations. As far as the early warning system is concerned, we are installing an international system that if the lake has an outburst, we can get an early warning and villagers can be evacuated.

Gilgit-Baltistan has been facing several environmental threats since the launch of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a multi-billion dollar infrastructure and development-related project.

Cutting of jungles, mountains and increase in heavy vehicular movement in the region poses a serious threat to the glaciers.

Most of the CPEC’s energy projects are coal-fueled, due to which the share of coal in Pakistan’s electricity fuel mix is expected to rise from a negligible percentage to 24 per cent by 2020.

This is completely against the grain of environmental consciousness, nor does it make economic sense, as most of the coal used in these plants is being imported.

The Tharparkar Phase-II project involves deep coal mining near the India-Pakistan border, but is being taken up without carrying out proper environmental assessment.

Like in Hambantota (Sri Lanka), China might be deliberating financing unviable projects to gain control of strategic interests in Pakistan.

For the Gwadar Free-Trade Zone (FTZ) and related infrastructure, Pakistan needs to pay back US $ 16 billion of loans to China at 13 per cent rate of interest, including insurance.

But, there is hardly any commercial activity in Gwadar area of Balochistan province. ANI