Road to recovery for Palas Valley
Exactly a year after northern Pakistan was devastated by a massive earthquake measuring 7.6 on the Richter scale, the bridleway into a remote mountain valley where 79 people died in the quake has been reconstructed, thanks to donations to BirdLife’s Pakistan Earthquake appeal.
BirdLife began working in the Palas Valley in 1991, and is a joint partner with the World Pheasant Association and WWF-Pakistan in the Palas Conservation and Development Project (PCDP).
“Until the bridleway was built, the movement of flour and other commodities into the Palas Valley was on foot,” explained Serwer Khan, consultant engineer to the Palas Conservation and Development Federation (PCDF).
However, the bridleway and other tracks were severely damaged during the earthquake on 8 October 2005, which hampered rescue efforts for the valley’s most seriously affected 20,000 inhabitants.
“It cost about US$15,000 to repair the main bridleway, but nearer US$220,000 is needed to repair all the essential infrastructure in the valley.” —Serwer Khan, consultant engineer to PCDF
“Much of the 26 km long bridleway into the valley between Sheryal Nullah and Nou Bridge was damaged by landslides and rock falls. People had to resort to bringing in food and other supplies on their backs. It cost about US$15,000 to repair the main bridleway, but nearer US$220,000 is needed to repair all the essential infrastructure in the valley, such as paths, irrigation channels, schools and bridges.
“Our next target is to repair two of the bridges that cross the valley, allowing communication and movement from one side of the valley to the other.”
The reconstruction of the bridleway was supervised by (PCDF).
“Now people living in the Upper Palas Valley have improved access to the main road, which means they can get their agricultural and other produce from the valley, such as mushrooms, medicinal plants and honey, to market, which provides the villagers with valuable income,” said Amir Saeed Khan WWF/DfID Liaison Officer.
“The bridleway means livestock can be moved safely to and from their summer pastures and allows relief agencies easier access to the valley to carry out their reconstruction work.”