Pakistani PM announces relief package for Hunza26 May 2010
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani announced on Wednesday a compensation package for people affected by a lake formed by a landslide which blocked the Hunza River and damaged the Karakoram Highway. Addressing a news conference here, the prime minister said the package was based on an assessment made by the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) from May 19 to 25. He said the federal government had taken several steps in collaboration with the Gilgit-Baltistan authorities to mitigate the suffering of the affected people. He said relief goods of Rs50 million had been sent to the area. Under the package, Rs200,000 will be paid to those who lost land, Rs400,000 for houses destroyed, Rs160,000 for houses damaged and Rs100,000 for property submerged in Ayinabad, Shishkat and Gulmit. The prime minister said the affected families would get free wheat and flour for two months and Rs5,000 per month for six months. Refuting an allegation about neglect, he said helicopters had made 751 sorties to supply relief goods and evacuate stranded people. He said three C-130 planes had transported relief goods to the area. The Frontier Works Organisation had built a spillway to reduce the risk of devastation and an early warning system had been put in place, he said. He said a further Rs55 million food support was being provided and NGOs and other organisations had contributed Rs45 million.The prime minister announced that damaged sections of the Karakoram Highway would be repaired. He parried questions about a delay in damage assessment and the announcement of the aid package only after protests by affected people and a grant announced by leaders of the Pakistan Muslim League-N. He said the protest was held after he had left the area along with journalists. Replying to questions, the prime minister's spokesman said 'We only took representatives of electronic media because of shortage of seats.' NDMA chief Gen (retd) Nadeem Ahmed told journalists that the level of the lake was rising by 3.1 feet a day and water was likely to reach the spillway by Friday. He said the water level could suddenly rise in case of heavy rain or a glacier burst. He said the lake had 1.3 million acre-feet of water. Tarbela Dam had a capacity of 6MAF and could easily absorb the water from the Hunza lake. He said the landslide at Attabad covered an area of around 2km and it was not possible to blast it away because it could have triggered more landslides in a highly unstable region. APP adds According to NDMA's assessment, 20 people were killed, eight injured. About 1,500 people of Attabad and Sarat and 25,000 of upper Hunza were affected by the landslide. A compensation of Rs10.7 million has been paid to the families of the deceased and the injured. The federal government allocated Rs100 million to Gilgit-Baltistan for relief activities. Helicopter and C-130 sorties cost Rs14 million. The FWO completed the 24 metres deep and 45 metres wide spillway on May 15 at a cost of Rs80 million. The estimated expenditure on compensation for lost land is Rs100 million, destroyed and damaged houses Rs200 million, monthly cash grant for those who have lost their houses Rs15 million, wheat and flour distribution in upper Hunza Rs4.5 million. Baitul Maal will pay Rs17.1 million to owners of submerged houses. The Utility Stores Corporation will set up sale points in Gulmit and Sust. The government of Gilgit-Baltistan will launch an Education Assistance Fund for students of the affected areas studying outside the region.