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NATURES WARNING

KKH is not just a highway but is a marvel of engineering, courage and prosperity. It is the bloodline of Pak-China trade which is worth billion of dollars. It is a sole source of Livelihood of millions of people. Passing through the rough terrains of Gilgit-Baltistan, it provides magnificent scenery to the visitors and travelers. Its prime importance is urging all stake holders for its expansion and reconstructions. Therefore mega engineering projects are being carried out since long. These activities caused serious damage to the geology of the area and disturbed its land, making it vulnerable to landslides and other catastrophes. Land sliding is the regular feature of this tract but human activities accelerated its pace. A proof of this is the recent ongoing crisis of Attabad Lake. This catastrophe not only disturbed the local population but also badly affected the national economy. It is also very harmful for our water reservoirs as it will accelerate the rate of sedimentation in them. These actions cause irreversible damage to the national economy. However, in reference to Attabad Lake, I want to share my views through these pages. As this lake is formed due to natural calamity and is therefore very different in function and structure as compared to the regular concrete dams. Rather, its a huge unscientific and unplanned obstruction; therefore its behavior is lot different than the normal dam conditions. This obstruction is composed of huge boulders (each one of which can weigh hundred of tones), stones and coarse soil. The erosive action of flowing water is different in this case. If the portion of soil is less in aggregate, then the rate of erosion will be less and vice versa. It is noticeable that this obstruction is very long in length as compared to regular dams and therefore it chances to break at sudden are very slim but it will start disintegrating slowly or quickly from lower end. Generally, there are two clear situations for this dam: 1- The dam will disintegrate quickly. 2- It will disintegrate slowly. In case of its immediate disintegration, definitely there will be a huge flood of water along with thousand tones of debris, which will devastate a large area downstream. The height of this flood will be fairly lower than the level of water in the dam at that time. But this mishap can happen only in the case when a huge portion or all of the length of the dam obstruction disintegrates from downstream in very

short time. It can happen if the seepage of water increases drastically, which will weaken the base of dam by making it hollow. Lets pray to Almighty Allah that this shouldnot happen. In the other case the dam can start disintegrating from downstream very slowly and water leak out in a pretty safe manner through spillway. There are two possibilities in this regard; either the spillway continuously gets enlarged by erosion and all the water flow out. In other possibility, there is a chance that the erosion rate in spillway might get very slow or even stop, hence the outflow of water stops and spillway will then require manual excavation for safe disposal of water. This can happen if exposed bed of upstream portion of the spillway consists only of boulders or huge stones. These will not be eroded by water easily and quickly, and hence the spillway will start to stop functioning. In such condition manual excavation can be required for deepening of spillway for safe disposal of water. Presently, the outflow fluctuates in range of 4000-5000 cusecs from past one week. If this situation persist for some more days, immediate attention will be required for determining the condition of spillway bed. Therefore in the above situation, it is concluded that continuous moderate erosion of the spillway in its depth and width is the safest possible condition for the safe disposal of water. Now, come towards the outflow of water. There are three stages for it: 1- Outflow is less than inflow: In this case the level of water in dam will increase. 2- Outflow is equal to inflow: In this case the water level will be steady. 3- Outflow is more than inflow: In this case the level of water start falling and dam starts to be emptying. In first stage, as the rising water level will exert immense pressure on the outlet, therefore the speed of water will be high and hence the erosion also. In second stage water speed will be moderate and in third case it will flow under the force of gravity. In current situation, outflow seems to be in second stage. In coming days more melted water from the glaciers will be added along with the rain water. So, one can easily determine that this stage might continue for a week or so with little fluctuations in outflow/inflow ratio. Our prime importance is in third stage. In current situation it can initiate after a considerable increase in the size of spillway which will increase the outflow. Initial outflow at this stage can be 900010000 cusecs or even more and it may go up to 20000-25000 cusecs. If the spillway continuously gets enlarged in perpetual manner the dam can be empty in any time after Mid July. As we all know that summer is of very short duration in this area. Therefore, a very important point arises that, what will happen if the dam remains intact for further two months? In this case the

winter will play a very dangerous role. Water inside the obstruction and cracks, will start getting freeze and expand. Therefore the whole structure can become very fragile. In this case anything worse can happen due to pressure of present water in dam. So we should keep in mind that this summer is the best available opportunity to get rid of this dam safely. It is also been learnt that the debris accumulated by landslide contains traces of limestone, which is a bonding material in presence of moisture and pressure. These both conditions are present in the depth of the dam obstruction. So a very scientific approach is required to get a clear picture in this regard. In a nutshell, there is a need to continuously monitor the situation scientifically and to take proper steps immediately. Also getting advantage of this situation a brief technical study of all of its aspects should be carried out by universities and researches, so that we can get valuable information which will help us in future. The disaster of Attabad is not a big surprise for any ecologist or environmentalist. The way we are treating our mother nature, these things are going to happen frequently in future and even in more badly manner. The need is therefore to understand these incidents logically and scientifically to not only avoid there occurrence but also evolving a strategies in case of their occurrence. We have to take this incident seriously as it may be the start of a chain reaction in this tract because mega engineering activities carried out for constructing KKH and other projects, caused serious damage to the geology of the area and disturbed its land, making it vulnerable to landslides and other catastrophes. Government and NGOs should make an inventory of the tract, mentioning the potentially most hazardous areas as red zones. Also strict rules should be made for carrying out EIA (Environmental Impact Assessment) of each and every project. Local government and communities should start land stabilization measures immediately to rehabilitate the land.

Taymoor Arif taymoor.arif@hotmail.com