By: Rahmatullah Khan
No doubt, the country faced worst kinds of floods during the past some years but the losses in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and particularly in the hilly areas like Chitral and Swat are unprecedented where tourism, the only main source of peoples’ income, has badly suffered.
Kalash Valleys, which are situated at West of district Chitral, are among the areas are at the verge of devastation due to flash flood, eroding the mountains, roads and agriculture fields in the valleys, created fear lest the people having unique culture (Kalash) as well as the three valleys Bamboret, Rambor and Bareer should obliterate owing to non-stop erosion.
The recent flash flood devastated the valleys, as washed away the already topsy-turvy roads towards the valleys, swept away the agriculture fields and the embankments of the rivers, rooted out the trees of different fruits.
The communication system was fully damaged, disconnected the areas and the villagers plod while reaching to Ayun, headquarter of the valleys but the apathy of the local administration of Chitral and the government to prefer to troublesome of the mountaineers.
On July 3Ist, the worst flash flood was witnessed of its history as creeks flowing water just knee-deep from the hills towards the main river, were full of the water that took away all things came in its way including, standing crops, vehicles standing in the streams, homes and eroded the remaining grounds, made the way easy to rub next if flood would come again.
Exactly after two days, heavy and unabated showers from the eastern side of Bamboret valley started, and the main river swelled, brought heavy stones from the mountains and trees specially due to deforestation.
Since all the Kalash valleys are not wide like Kalam (Swat) but very narrow, therefore, owing to lack of land, majority of the residents populated at the river sides, and the flood damaged homes coming in the non-stop flood and sub-standard protection walls constructed in some parts of the river.
The flood then washed all the link-bridges, water channels, supply water to irrigation purpose in Ayun and even the bamboret and Barir valleys, pipe for drinking water.
When the flood rubbed the bottom of the mountains, the main road from Ayun towards Rambor and Bamboret was completely destroyed the dilapidated gradually but the government machinery was least bothered to restore the communication system for over one month.
The local people say that an old frozen glacier on top of the valley crumbled, which brought trouble for the dwellers and if the whole start flowing, the whole bamboret would be converted into a dam.
Bamboret valley is lush green as compared to other parts of the district Chitral and a very famous place across the world because of people having historical culture even in this modern time, has become a tourists’ resort, despite the untoward situation in Pakistan particularly in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, foreign tourists come to the valley to see the culture of the Kalash tribe.
The government of Pakistan is pride of having such a unique culture and has been striving to preserve it in order to attract the world towards the valleys but no facility has been given to them.
Deforestation is on pick, the trees of different expensive fruits including pine nut and walnut, are being cut ruthlessly as well for sale in the market and firewood in connivance with local administration. It is regretfully saying that there is no check by the government on the illegal cutting of forests. Deforestation maybe one of the reasons of flood and erosion of the land but the government departments should take timely action to stop the destruction.
The people of the valleys are too poor to afford price hike, but owing to negligence of the government in restoring the communication system, starvation like situation created there because things food- stuff are unavailable. Some items if available are sold at exorbitant rates.
According to the Kalashis, there are some parts of the valley, from top to end of the river wherein standard protection walls must be constructed so that the valley could be saved from the flood. The people fear that if the old glacier crumbles or heavy rains bring flood in future they can cause heavy destruction. The residents have demanded of the government to impose complete ban on deforestation.
“Chitral is known in the world with more Kalashis’ culture than other culture in the district, so, these areas are important to be preserved for tourists. Therefore, the government should try to take steps to save the valleys from natural disaster in future and their greenery as well. I’ve never seen such dangerous flash flood in my life,” a senior citizen Ameer-ur-Rahman commented.
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Rahmatullah Khan, Reporter