Joshimath is sinking, Chamoli DM visit affected buildings
Dehradun , Dec 28
Joshimath a small beautiful town perched at a height of 6000 feet in the hill district of Chamoli in the Himalayan state of Uttarakhand is sinking. The town is gateway for Badrinath, Auli, Hemkund Sahib & UNESCO World Heritage site of Valley of Flowers and also holds strategic importance with the presence of substantial numbers of army personnel stationed in the region.
On the concern expressed by the residents and concerned citizens Himanshu Khurana, District Magistrate, Chamoli visited the town on December 27,2022 and ordered construction of a one and half kilometre long protection wall along river Alaknanda to stop soil erosion. He also visited the houses and buildings which are sinking or have developed wide cracks. He ordered the officials of the Irrigation department to prepare a drainage plan for the town at the earliest.
It has been a matter extreme alarm and concern for the more than 20,000 residents of the town and other concerned citizens of the state that homes, hotels, resorts and buildings on some parts of Joshimath have seen cracks in the walls and ceilings. This has resulted in a state of panic for town residents who had formed a committee to highlight the issue and demand immediate measures to safeguard the hearths and homes.
The committee met State Disaster Management secretary Dr. Ranjit Sinha and demanded closure of the ongoing mega projects in the vicinity of the town. According to locals, the tunnel of 520 MW Tapovan-Vishnugad Hydro-electric project and a bye-pass being built as part of Badrinath highway could be the possible reason for the sinking of the town. However, the NTPC officials deny that the tunnel which was shifted to one kilometre away from the town has anything to do with the present situation.
Joshimath has had a history of sinking with the Mishra Committee reporting this the first time in 1976. The sinkings have exacerbated in recent months prompting the state government to constitute a committee of experts from the Uttarakhand State Disaster Management Authority (USDMA), CBRI Roorkee, IIT Roorkee, Wadia Institute, Dehradun and the Geological Survey of India. The expert committee that was tasked to undertake geological & geotechnical investigations had visited Joshimath in August this year and found that the town was built on an unstable foundation which can give way in case of heavy rains, tremors, unregulated construction or far more footfalls than the towns carrying capacity.
The team attributed the sinking to the numerous homes, hotels and resorts that have mushroomed on Joshimath-Auli route. Poor drainage, sewage and erosion by rivers have aggravated the situation.
In the recent flashpoint, a key stretch of the key Joshimath-Helang highway has caved in with several hotels & homes also developing fresh cracks. Alarmed and panicked, this has prompted the citizens and local businesses to protest against the sinking of the town. A march was organized under the banner of Joshimath Bachao Sangharsh Samiti (Save Joshimath Group). The group has demanded that the town be saved based on recommendations made by the expert committee, banning of large scale constructions, stopping the construction of the bye-pass road, putting a stop on the hydropower projects in the region & rehabilitation of the impacted families.
In a fresh series of initiatives targeted at resolving the situation, the state government has ordered a detailed bearing capacity study, ordered the Irrigation Department to make a drainage plan & conduct a geological study of the town. A meeting has also been called next year on January 15.
Anoop Nautiyal, Founder of Social Development of Communities (SDC) who has been highlighting the issue for the past sometime said,” Let us hope that the thousands of people who live in Joshimath & the many who visit the town will be safe and sound. Naturally, authorities have to move in quick and fast. Time is precious and Uttarakhand is a state known for its frequent disasters and casualties. Hope and pray that this will pass and Joshimath will be as beautiful, as spiritual and as majestic as ever”.
Atul Sati, convenor of the Joshimath Bacchao Sanghrash Samiti in a representation to the Disaster management Secretary has demanded immediate relief and rehabilitation of the affected families and long term solution of the problem.