Nearly 700 houses developed cracks in last 6 weeks in Joshimath: Officials
The number of houses developing cracks in Joshimath due to land subsidence rose to 849 on Tuesday from nearly 150 in December first week, officials said.
The first case of a ‘crack in a house’ was reported from Joshimath’s Gandhi Nagar area in October 2021 when cracks developed in 14-15 houses.
On January 4, 2023, when the situation continued to worsen, the Chamoli district administration for the first time issued a bulletin on the Joshimath crisis according to which, the number of houses having cracks stood at 561.
Now over 800 buildings, including houses and hotels have developed cracks. As per the latest bulletin on Tuesday, the number of houses in the unsafe zone (inhabitable) stood at 167. It was 86 on January 10.
Authorities tried to raze down “unsafe” declared hotels – Malari Inn and Mount View– in Joshimath on January 10 after the Central Building Research Institute (CBRI) declared them unsafe. However, their attempts failed as protests erupted over the compensation before any structure is demolished and their loss of livelihood.
Protestors also demanded the closure of National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) projects in the area, which according to them is the cause of land subsidence. The Joshimath Bachao Sangharsh Samiti (JBSS) has also announced a protest across the town on Republic Day (January 26).
Meanwhile, according to the authorities, two more hotels have begun tilting towards each other due to land subsidence. Cracks have also widened in hotel Comet and Snow Crest hotel, they said.
In terms of the ward, a maximum of 161 houses have developed cracks in Ravigram, followed by Gandhinagar where 154 houses have developed cracks. Officials said they have evacuated the maximum number of families from Sindhar, Gandhinagar, Manohar Bagh and Sunil wards since most houses fall into the “danger zone.”
As of Tuesday, 250 families were evacuated to safer locations. The number of families which were shifted to relief camps was just 29 on January 4.
According to the officials, not just residential houses and hotels, government-owned structures too have been affected by land subsidence. “The CBRI has declared the PWD inspection as unsafe and its demolition will begin on Wednesday,” an official said.
The land subsidence has also surfaced in the upper and lower portion of the tehsil building, instilling fear among the people visiting the tehsil for their work. To monitor the situation well, the CBRI has installed crack meters in the affected buildings.
Meanwhile, Chamoli district magistrate Himanshu Khurana said that the administration has identified 615 rooms in 83 places as temporary relief camps for residents under the Joshimath town area where 2,190 affected people can be accommodated while 491 rooms of 20 buildings have been selected as temporary relief camps in Pipalkoti outside the municipal area where 2,205 people can be accommodated.
As the demolition of Malari Inn resumed on Sunday, Thakur Singh Rana, the hotel owner said, “The district administration teams have demolished the topmost floor of my hotel and they are working to demolish the other floors on Tuesday.”
Meanwhile, Ajendra Ajay Badrinath Temple committee chairman on Monday inspected the Narsingh temple, which is the winter abode of Lord Badrinath and declined any threat to the building.
“I inspected the Narsingh temple premises and have been monitoring the situation in the past too. Currently, there is no danger to the temple premises apart from a few cracks that developed earlier outside the temple premises,” he said.
Geological Survey of India (GSI) too surveyed the temple earlier and they were awaiting their inspection report, said Ajendra Ajay.
According to the officials, the Chamoli district administration has so far distributed a relief package of ₹3.77 crore to the affected 396 affected families.
Under the relief measures, 284 food kits, 360 blankets and 842 litres of milk, 55 heaters/ blowers, 36 daily use kits, and 642 other items have been distributed as relief material to the affected people.