“It’s Sinking…”: Holy Town In Uttarakhand Stares At Exodus As Houses Crack

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Joshimath residents protesting against alleged government inaction over the land subsidence.

Joshimath (Uttarakhand):
Cracks have developed in at least 570 houses in Uttarakhand’s Joshimath as a result of continued land subsidence. Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami will visit the town soon to take stock as he is getting expert reports and preparing a plan.

  1. After sinking of land, apparently caused by climate and infrastructural changes, over 60 families are reported to have left town. Officials said 29 families were taken to safer places by the administration on Wednesday. Nearly 500 families are either risking their lives by still living in the houses, or are looking for accommodation at other places in biting cold. 

  2. More than 3,000 people are affected, said the municipality chief. That’s over 10 per cent of the population. “All the houses are being surveyed by the municipality. Many people have also left their homes,” he said.

  3. Teams from IIT Roorkee are among experts in town to prepare a report that will be sent to the Chief Minister as roads, too, have developed cracks. The problem has spread across all nine wards — it started from three — in the Himalayan town that has great religious and strategic importance.

  4. Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami said, “I will be visiting Joshimath in the coming days and initiate steps to handle the situation. All the reports will be monitored and all the required steps will be taken. I have had a word with the Municipal Corporation chairman Shailendra Pawar.”

  5. “We have been demanding our immediate rehabilitation for a year but we are not being heard,” said Atul Sati, convener of Save Joshimath Committee. “Joshimath’s base is sinking… People are supporting their houses with bamboo poles and covering the chinks with rags. But the state government is unfazed.”

  6. The Disaster Management Department has reported cases of water seepage from below ground in the earthquake-prone region. The District Magistrate of Chamoli has posted Joint Magistrate Deepak Saini in Joshimath to monitor the situation and work on immediate relief.

  7. Among those affected is Madhavi Sati, a former municipal chief, whose house has huge cracks. “I have no other option but to live in a ruined house,” she said. She said that the DM of Chamoli also visited the area but no conclusion has been reached so far.

  8. A delegation from the town may also travel to state capital Dehradun, around 300 km away, to meet the Chief Minister. They will demand rehabilitation of the people affected by the subsidence.

  9. The town is considered the gateway for several climbing expeditions in the Himalayas. These include the trek to the pilgrimage centre of Badrinath and to the Valley of Flowers.

  10. Home to the Jyotirmath Hindu monastery, it is among the cardinal institutions of Hinduism. A cantonment here is among the closest military stations to the border with China.



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