GILGIT: To restore land connection with the Gojal valley, the government has planned to redesign the submerged portion of Karakoram Highway [KKH] by constructing two tunnels and seven bridges on it, disclosed a senior official of the National Highway Authority (NHA) in Gilgit on Thursday.
?The submerged portion of the KKH, which is about 17 kilometres, will be redesigned to enable it to stay above water,? NHA Director Abdullah Jan told The Express Tribune.
Jan said that the Chinese engineers had prepared the design of KKH in a way that there would be no chance of landslides on the highway, meaning that it would not get blocked.
He said that work was in progress on the expansion of the strategic KKH, 85 per cent of the cost of which is borne by China. The KKH up-gradation project, involving $510 million, will cover 335km from Raikote Bridge up to Khunjerab in the first phase.
On Wednesday, a delegation from Gojal valley also met with the Chief Secretary Saifullah Chattha, informing him of their plight in the wake of the landslide that left 20 people dead early last year. ?The government has assured us that the water level of the landslide triggered lake would be lowered to the level of KKH by May 30,? said one of the delegates.
He said that the government was willing to provide helicopter services besides providing more boats for the convenience of people whose plight was aggravated in winter when the lake froze.
An official said that the delegation also demanded health facilities and appointment of a doctor at the tehsil headquarters hospital Gulmit.
In early 2010, a massive landslide blocked Hunza River at Attabad, creating a 23km lake that submerged three villages upstream in Gojal Tehsil. The landslide also marooned nearly 25,000 people in Gojal whose only connection with the rest of the country was the KKH.
Article by Shabbir Mir Courtesy The Express Tribune, February 19th, 2011.