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Vulnerable to natural disasters: Nearly half of G-B houses at risk

GILGIT: A ‘hazard mapping’ survey of Gilgit-Baltistan has indicated that nearly half of all the houses in the region were exposed to multiple risks and hazards.The findings were shared by a non-governmental organisation FOCUS Pakistan during a seminar in Gilgit on Tuesday. FOCUS’ Executive Officer Nusrat Nasab revealed that of the 290 households surveyed, they found that over 46 per cent were at risk.

“Similarly, almost a of the schools, health facilities, mosques and more than half of the bridges, telecom towers and power stations are at direct risk from disasters,” warned Nasab. She added that most of the population living downstream was at risk, as were people living along streams, riverbeds and steep slopes. Even those living near glaciers were at risk.

Nasab said G-B direly needed early warning systems as the region was prone to natural disasters. In this regard, she said there was a need for the government to formulate adequate polices and legislation to address the matter.

Addressing the seminar, G-B Chief Minister Hafeezur Rehman stated that the hazard and risk maps were important tools and would be used for planning and decision-making by the government.

He said the G-B Disaster Management Authority had been has strengthened to cope with disasters.  “A fund has been established and both the federal as well as regional governments contribute towards it,” the chief minister stated.

Acknowledging the importance of being ready to combat disaster, Rehman said Gilgit-Baltistan is vital to the political and economic interests of Pakistan.

“It is strategically located and borders China, Afghanistan and Tajikistan. It is therefore important to look at new opportunities for natural resource management, policies and disaster risk reduction strategies.“

He announced that the G-B government would soon sign an agreement with FOCUS to expand cooperation. The CM added that the government would soon float tenders to purchase machinery worth Rs750 million. However, he did not specify for what purpose or what machinery would be bought.

Source: The Express Tribune

Byline: Shabbir Mir

November 16, 2016

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