Latest updates: The authorities have halted demolition activities in Joshimath, as protests by local people and hotel owners intensified on Wednesday. The owner of Malari Inn broke down as the authorities were about to start the demolition process, reported India Today.
- Light rainfall in Joshimath and snowfall in Sunil area of Chamoli district have fuelled the landslide scare. The district administration has said that bulldozers and heavy machinery will not be used for the demolition activities in Joshimath as they may cause tremors.
- Meanwhile, Rs 5,000 has been given to families for the purchase of household items and Rs 1.50 lakh per building will be given to owners of damaged buildings. The administration also distributed food kits, milk and blankets to affected families.
Demolition:The district administration was going to demolish two precariously standing hotels in subsidence-hit Joshimath, a day after the Uttarakhand government directed the razing of unstable structures in the area.
- Protests had erupted ahead of the demolition of two hotels as there was no clarity on how people whose properties were to be demolished would be compensated. Hotel owners and locals are demanding compensation as per the Badrinath Dham master plan.
- Malari Inn and Mount View, two adjacent hotels, have begun leaning towards each other, posing a threat to human settlements around them.
Joshimath is the gateway to famous pilgrimage sites like the Badrinath and the Hemkund Sahib and the skiing destination Auli.
Joshimath sinking: There are a total of 4,500 buildings in Joshimath over 700 of these have developed huge cracks, making them unfit for habitation. Many buildings are oozing brown muddy water.
- Locals claimed that they had warned the authorities about the situation months back, but no one responded. If an expert is to be believed, a warning regarding the sinking of land in Joshimath town was issued decades ago, reported India Today.
"Land subsidence has been going on slowly in Joshimath for quite some time but it has increased over the past week with huge cracks appearing in houses, fields, and roads," the Garhwal Commissioner said.
Evacuation efforts: State Disaster Relief Force (SDRF) personnel along with JCBs and workers have reached the spot and announcements were made asking people to keep their distance from the two hotels.
- As many as 131 families in total have so far been shifted to the temporary relief centres while the number of damaged houses in Joshimath has risen to 723, a bulletin from the Chamoli unit of Disaster Management Authority said on Tuesday.
- There are 86 houses in the area demarcated as an unsafe zone. The district administration has put red cross marks on houses in the sinking town that are unsafe for living, reported PTI.
- Relief shelters have been identified in Joshimath and Pipalkoti to accommodate the affected families and appropriate compensation and relief measures are being provided by the state government.
- The national and state disaster response forces have been deployed to help the district administration in their relief and rehabilitation efforts.
Micro-seismic observation systems: The Centre on Tuesday announced that it will install micro seismic observation systems at Joshimath. Earth Sciences Minister Jitendra Singh made the announcement at the India-UK Workshop of Geosciences and said the observation systems will be in place by Wednesday.
Seismic energy generation due to micro-earthquakes may have weakened the strength of the rocks as Joshimath is located in the earthquake rupture zone of the 1999 Chamoli earthquake, PTI reported.
Why is Joshimath sinking? According to the experts, the land subsidence in Joshimath is mainly due to the National Thermal Power Corporation's Tapovan Vishnugad Hydro Power Project.
The hydro project, which has been undergoing beneath the town, has been blamed for the situation because of the vibrations caused by its development work. Experts believe that this may have also opened the cracks, which have now allowed water to flush out from the surface in many areas.
- Experts have said that Joshimath is situated on a hollow earth and the town's aquifer is not strong enough, which has led to major cracks in houses and other structures, reported India Today.
- However, the hydro project alone can't be blamed for the situation. Just like Joshimath, several other towns in the foothills of the Himalayas are vulnerable to ground subsidence due to excessive construction activities and increased human activity in the region.