Land sinking in Joshimath: Uttarakhand CM orders relocation of families

Uttrakhand: On a day when a temple collapsed in Singdhar ward of the Himalayan town of Joshimath on Friday evening, Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami held a review meeting with top state officials and ordered long-term and short-term plans for relocation and rehabilitation of people impacted by land subsidence.

Residents have been camping out in the cold as around 600 houses and other structures have developed cracks due to the soil shifting.

More than 3,000 people are affected, the municipality chief has said. That’s over 10 per cent of the population. Cracks run along and across the roads and are widening constantly in the holy town, an entry point for major Hindu and Sikh pilgrimages and one of the major military bases near India’s border with China.

No one was injured in the temple collapse as it was abandoned after it had developed huge cracks. The nearby town of Auli is seeing a similar problem develop; all roads to it have been closed. Also, ongoing projects, including a hydel power plant and the Char Dham road, have been halted.

The state government has said people whose houses are affected and have to vacate will get ₹ 4,000 a month as rent for the next six months from the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund.

“For precaution, a team of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) has been deployed in Joshimath. It is important to stay alert as the area witnesses land subsidence,” said LN Mishra, Chief Development Officer, Chamoli.

At least 40 families have already moved out as soil subsidence gets worse by the day in a region that’s among the most susceptible to earthquakes.

The Chief Minister is set to visit after protests by locals who demand a solution or adequate rehabilitation. Experts have been deployed and the state’s BJP government says it’ll do whatever needs to be done after getting their reports.

Sunil Kumar Dhangadamajhi

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