Temple Collapses In Uttarakhand’s Joshimath, Cracks Creep Into Homes, CM To Visit On Saturday

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Temple Collapses In Uttarakhand’s Joshimath, Cracks Creep Into Homes, CM To Visit On Saturday

| Updated: January 7, 2023 14:45

Uttarakhand has been in recent news for an eviction in Haldwani, allegedly on Railways land. This would entail a populace of 50,000 being displaced from their homes, without any rehab plan alongside. Realising that it would entail a humanitarian catastrophe of sorts, the Apex Court, on Thursday, stayed the order.

However, Uttarakhand is again in news again. The temple town of Joshimath recently reported cracks developing in many homes. Adding to woes, a temple collapsed in the Himalayan town on Friday evening, heightening fears among residents who have been camping out in the cold as around 600 houses and other structures have developed rifts due to the soil shifting.

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. Climate change and constant infrastructure development are to blame, say locals. 

Officially, 561 establishments have reported cracks, according to the Chamoli district administration. Operations in Hotel View and Malari Inn have been restricted, the statement added. 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.

Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami, who is likely to visit on Saturday, has ordered evacuation and temporary shelters for the affected families. A team of experts and scientists is stationed in the Himalayan town for a door-to-door survey. 

The town, over 6,000 feet high, is considered a gateway for several climbing expeditions in the Himalayas. These include the trek to the pilgrimage centres of Badrinath and Hemkunt Sahib, and to the Valley of Flowers. The town is also home to the Jyotirmath monastery and revered among the cardinal institutions of Hinduism.

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.

“Tunnels being dug for hydel power plants have led to this,” alleged a local hotelier, “And they continue to blast through rocks to widen roads, build bypasses, even very close to our town.”

He added, “We are living in constant fear. People light fires and stay outside in the cold nights as they fear their houses or hotels might collapse anytime.”

On the government working on solutions, he said, “Steps should have bene taken many years ago as this is not a new phenomenon. Successive governments have ignored that big projects lead to destruction.”

The district administration has already asked Hindustan Construction Company Limited (HCC) and National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) to be prepared to shelter affected families.

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