Cracks in the walls of houses. Fields and roads open up, some oozing muddy brown water. Residents of Joshimath have been facing many hardships for almost a year now. Their city is sinking.
The Joshimath Township tragedy is a cumulative effect of the local government’s brazen apathy in heeding repeated warnings from environmentalists, geologists, experts and, most importantly, local people.
After several reports of local protests against the “gradual sinking” of Joshimath, a small Himalayan mountain town in the northern state of Uttarakhand, Indian Greens Party (iGP) founder Suresh Nautiyal has regretted that it was an arduous task to save this city from subsidence and collapse.
More than 700 houses and several roads have developed cracks as the land under the city continues to gradually sink, and these numbers are increasing day by day.
Authorities evacuated more than 80 families from their homes. Cracks also appeared in houses in nearby towns such as Raini and Karnaprayag.
The demolition of buildings that have developed numerous cracks has also begun and two hotels are the first to be razed.
Mr Nautiyal said he was sad that the government did not act in time despite the cracks which started to appear in October 2021.
The party said the tragedy happened due to government negligence and hydropower projects.
- “It is regrettable that the government and the hydroelectric companies did not listen to the sensible voices of geologists and scientists who opposed the activities of tunnels and dams in the region.”
According to a party press release, the Joshimath incident was an environmental tragedy due to corrupt political leaders and poor governance.
The report of the government-appointed Mishra commission submitted in 1978 advised against carrying out major construction works in Joshimath as well as in the Niti and Mana valleys because these areas were located on moraines.
Joshimath is a landslide prone area. A 2007 study that mapped landslide risk areas in the Joshimath-Badrinath road corridor found that the city of Joshimath was one of the most landslide-prone places in the region.