The Joshimath Crisis —- What We Know So Far About The Sinking Hill Town

Joshimath, the hill town of Uttarakhand, has become a cause of concern for its sinking land, with cracks appearing in more than 700 structures due to land subsidence that has threatened settlements in much of the town.

The holy town with a population of around 20,000 has been declared disaster-prone by the local authorities. “The Joshimath area has been declared disaster-prone. Construction activities have been banned in Joshimath and nearby areas,” the Chamoli DM said.

462 people belonging to 131 families have been evacuated and relocated to relief centres, ANI quoted Himanshu Khurana, District Magistrate, Chamoli as saying.

Why is it sinking?

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According to reports, the holy town of Joshimath came was built on an ancient landslide site. With growing urbanisation, more stress was put on this small Himalayan town. Researchers claimed that urbanisation has historically worsened the condition of the city since it disturbs natural water drainage, undercuts slopes, and results in an uncontrolled discharge of water.

Excessive construction is one of the major reasons behind large-scale landslides in the region. CSIR chief scientist DP Kanungo stated that between 2009 and 2012, as many as 128 landslides were recorded in the Chamoli-Joshimath region.

The Mishra Committee report of 1976 accessed by the Times of India warned 50 years ago that “For road repairs and other construction, it would be advisable not to remove boulders by digging or blasting the hillside. . . Trees in the area should be nurtured like children. ”

Earlier, in June 2021, an independent committee was formed at the request of local residents to survey the area. The committee said, “further excavation works would sink Joshimath” and also recommended an elaborate survey by multi-institutional experts.

Top developments so far-

  • Structures, including houses and hotels, that have developed wide cracks and are on the brink of collapse will be demolished within a week, a top official said on Wednesday.
  • The government announced that every affected family will be given Rs 1.5 lakh immediately as compensation for losing their home. “The Chief Minister has announced an interim aid of Rs 1,50,000 for affected families. Along with this, Rs 50,000 as additional assistance will be given to those facing difficulties,” said R. Meenakshi Sundaram, Secretary to Uttarakhand CM.
  • The local people who have been affected by the landslide will be compensated at the market rate. The market rate will be decided after taking the suggestions of the stakeholders, said Office of CM Pushkar Singh Dhami.

  • RM Sundaram further said that those who want to shift to a rented accommodation will be given Rs 4,000 per month for six months.
  • Protests erupted in the hill town as the administration moved to demolish unstable buildings, including two precariously standing hotels, demanding fair compensation from the government.
  • Both national and state disaster response forces have been deployed to aid the district administration in their relief and rehabilitation efforts.
  • Meanwhile, the Supreme Court on Tuesday declined an urgent hearing on the Joshimath land subsidence issue saying that everything important need not go to the apex court. The court posted the matter for hearing on January 16.
  • The Centre has also announced that it will install micro seismic observation systems in Joshimath. Earth Sciences Minister Jitendra Singh said the observation systems will be in place by Wednesday.
  • Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami on Sunday took to Twitter and shared that Prime Minister Narendra Modi was personally monitoring the Joshimath situation. “The Prime Minister is personally monitoring the situation in Joshimath and the security work being carried out by the government in the region, as well as assured all possible help to save Joshimath,” he said.

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