What's happening in Joshimath?

11 Jan 2023  Read 2390 Views

The 52-year-old carpenter switched on the lights and observed his newly-built, double-storey house found gaping cracks in the walls in 9 out of 11 rooms. The terrified 11-member family quickly shifted to 2 rooms where the walls had developed only hairline cracks. They have been ducked up there since then. 

Joshimath, a small town in Uttarakhand, is a holy place for most religions. Recently, Joshimath has been in the news as the town is sinking day by day. There are various reasons why this is happening. This blog will alert you about the Joshimath news and the Current updates so stay tuned!

Joshimath News

Joshimath, a place famous for pilgrimage sites like Hemkund Sahib and Badrinath, is going through a problem of Land subsidence/ sinking. It is slowly sinking, with large cracks in houses, roads and other sites (including temples)

Total 81 families have been evacuated to a safe place by the government (places like rented homes, hotels, and homestays)

What led to the sinking of Joshimath?

Residents in the town's Gandhinagar and Sunil wards first noticed cracks in their homes in October 2021. Cracks started to show up in the Ravigram ward by mid-2022. The Uttarakhand State Disaster Management Authority (USDMA) released a report in September 2022 that mostly cited

  1. Unplanned Heavy Construction
  2. Increase in tourism 
  3. Rise in population
  4. Extreme climate change
  5. Inadequate drainage system

Let’s look into each reason one by one

  • One factor contributing to the Joshimath surface's instability is the project of NTPC Hydro Power. The river and land of Joshimath have been disturbed due to the 520 MW run-of-river hydroelectric project known as the Tapovan Vishnugad Hydropower Plant.
  • According to experts report, Joshimath's building and tourism industries are 2 of the main causes of the town's decline. More than 70% of the economic contribution of the town is dependent on the tourism industry. The town experience thousands of tourists each year, which caused instability in the landslide-prone ground.
  • Much development, including a rise in the number of restaurants and hotels, has resulted from Joshimath's growing population and tourism, which also spurs the creation of new projects and building activities.
  • Joshimath was originally a region prone to landslides and earthquakes, hence the majority of the town was built on landslide debris, leaving the surface covered in smooth, worn rocks and loose soil.
  • According to experts, Joshimath is situated in seismic zone V, which makes it more vulnerable to earthquakes in addition to gradual weathering and water percolation that weaken the rocks’ cohesive strength.

Impact

According to news reports, over 600 homes in Joshimath have developed cracks, while fields and roadways have also been negatively impacted. Not only that, but high-tension electricity line poles are also tilting. The inhabitants of the hillside town have reported that apple and malt trees have begun to fall over, and residents are afraid to sleep inside their homes in the bitter cold. Residents are protesting and pleading with the state administration for permanent renovation as they leave their homes. They also demand that all building in the region, including the ongoing Char Dham yatra, stop immediately.

Mishra Commission 1976

The Mishra Committee report from 1976, which had forewarned against such an outcome almost 50 years ago, was retrieved in the context of Joshimath's "sinking," which has caused a disturbance among the residents of the border town. "It would be wise to refrain from excavating or blasting the hillside to remove rocks for road maintenance and other building projects. The trees must be cared for just like children "read the report's recommendation.

The committee (Mishra Commission) had already predicted far back in 1976 that the current crisis would grip the towns of Joshimath in Uttarakhand, which is now sinking — a phenomenon commonly known as land subsidence.

According to this report, Joshimath is a deposit of sand and stone, it’s not the main rock. It exists on an ancient landslide. The report further added that undercutting by river flows of Alaknanda and Dhauliganga is also playing their part in bringing landslides

Supreme Court on Joshimath issue

The SC refused to hear the urgent hearing of the matter and scheduled the same for 16th Jan. SC says that there are democratically elected institutions who can look into the situation. It was contended that all this happened due to large-scale industrialisation seeking financial relief. The matter was moved to the National Disaster Management Authority. 

Currently, the Uttarakhand government has declared that each affected family will be granted 1.50 Lakh as an immediate interim relief.

About the Author: Gurpreet Kaur Dutta | 63 Post(s)

A legal content writer who pursued BBA-LL.B.(H) from Amity University Chhattisgarh. She has a keen interest in corporate and IPR sectors. 

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