In “Sinking” Joshimath, Evacuation From Danger Zones, Choppers On Standby


On Saturday, Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami visited Joshimath, the “sinking town”, to assess the situation after a temple and several houses collapsed. Around 600 families have been evacuated immediately.

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A panel of experts has been formed to study land subsidence fast. The sinking of land will affect human settlements, buildings, highways, infrastructure, and river systems, officials said.

Officials have been asked to move about 600 people in Joshimath to safe locations as a first priority, Chief Minister Dhami said, adding that immediate and long-term action plans need to be made right away.

Further, the Chief Minister said medical treatment should be available on the ground, and airlift arrangements should be made, while ordering work on danger zones, sewers, and drainage to be expedited.

A temple collapsed here on Friday night, and several houses have developed huge cracks, alarming residents living in constant fear.

Locals blame climate change and infrastructure development. The subsidence is attributed to both human and natural factors. Kalachand Sain, director of the Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology, says the factors aren’t new.

A disaster control room should also be set up in the town, and state and national disaster response forces should be deployed adequately. A helicopter service will also be available.

Joshimath is the gateway to major Hindu and Sikh pilgrimage sites like Badrinath and Hemkund Sahib. In addition, it’s home to one of India’s biggest military bases.

There’s a huge crack under Asia’s biggest ropeway, the Auli ropeway.

Water is constantly flowing down with great force in the Marwari area of the town, where an aquifer burst.

NTPC’s hydel project and the Chardham all-weather road (Helang-Marwari bypass) have been halted until further orders on residents’ demand. Those who have to vacate their homes will receive $4,000 a month as rent for the next six months from the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund, the state government said.

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