Sunday, 17th December 2017

Landslide damage houses in Skardu as residents escape miraculously



GILGIT: A landslide, triggered by the rains, has damaged homes and trees in the Borgay Kushmara area of Skardu town in Gilgit - Baltistan.

The tragedy occurred two days back [Wednesday] not only robbed the poor villagers of their valuables but also left them without a shelter in an area 15 kiometers from Skardu – the main town of Baltistan region.

According to locals, at least seven houses were damaged and three dozen trees were swept away by the landslide, dealing a blow to the income of the poor villagers who income depends mostly on agriculture.

“The villagers were back to work that day after a spell of rains,” a resident Muhammad Ismail said on Thursday.

“But then at about 5 pm a deafen noise frightened us. It was a landslide that was coming down to us,” he told Outpost.

Though the landslide caused loss to the property, the villagers managed to escape the nature’s wrath. The heavy boulders flattened the houses and then trees whichever came first in the way.

“There was hue and cry in the village as boulders roll down trampling. But tank God no one was hurt in the end. An aged man and his grandson sitting in a home were hit by boulder but they remained unhurt.”

The other villagers – who are also relatives – were however quick to offer whatever they could. They offered food and shelter keeping the traditions alive. But that wasn’t enough to bring the routine life back.

“The villagers are poor and so can’t afford reconstructions. We want government to help us out,” said the villager.

While the panic that gripped everyone was intense, the reconstruction and rehabilitation was what weighed heavily on their minds.

“The government helps. The NGOs come but not after making considerable delays,” says another villager.

Programme manager at Al Khidmat Foundation Tahir Rana said his organization would provide food items up to two months for the affected families.

The government however has made an assessment to recompense the affected villagers. According to an assessment prepared by assistant commissioner Skardu, a family who lost their house would be provided Rs30,000 as compensation while those houses damaged partially would be provided Rs15000 each.

 The amount was however deemed too little to help affectees.

“The amount is insufficient for a minor repair let alone reconstruction of a house,” said Imtiaz Haider, social workers in Skardu. “And nobody knows how long it will take to reach the affected families,” Haider said.

“We just hope the government revises the compensation amount based on market rates and reaches out to them without wasting time.”

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