Joshimath, which is also known as Jyotirmath is located in the Chamoli District Uttarakhand at a height of 6,150 feet. This municipality that is known for being the gateway for mountain climbing expeditions, trekking, and several other thrilling activities was declared a landslide and subsidence hit zone by the authorities on Sunday. Why? Because Joshimath is sinking, as cracks started appearing in many roads and houses of Joshimath.
The decision was taken during the high-level meeting which took place among the top officials of the Central government, and officers from agencies like the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), Geological Survey of India (GSI) and the National Institute of Hydrology (NIH) and the state government officials.
The locals who were asked to evacuate their homes refused to do so, blaming the construction activities for the cracks. According to a report published in The Indian Express, around 68 families have been evacuated to relief centers till 8th of January 2023 and it also suggests that nearly 90 families will be evacuated soon.
What is land subsidence?
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) land subsidence is defined as the sinking of the ground because of underground material movement.
Removal of water, oil, or natural resources, along with mining activities. Earthquakes, soil erosion, and soil compaction are some of the reasons for which the sinking can take place.
Reasons Behind Joshimath Facing This Crisis
Although the cause behind the land subsidence is yet to unearthed but experts are of the opinion that it might have occurred because of unplanned construction activities, overpopulation in the region, and obstruction of the natural flow of water and hydel power activities. Joshimath is also known to be a seismic zone, which makes it prone to frequent earthquakes.
The 50-year-old MC Mishra committee report that first highlighted the possibility of such an incident occurring had stated that Joshimath was situated on an old landslide zone, and it does not have high-load bearing capacity. Hence that would deem the city extremely vulnerable to ever-burgeoning infrastructure and population.
Additionally, a lack of a proper drainage system might be another causal factor contributing to the sinking of Joshimath. According to the specialists, unplanned and unauthorized construction may have led to the blocking of the natural flow of water, which eventually resulted in frequent landslides.
The state-owned NTPC's Tapovan Vishnugad Hydro Power Project also bore the brunt when residents blamed the project for the incident because it was alleged that the tunnel had water seepage from a punctured aquifer, leading to the drying of water sources in Joshimath.
NTPC, however, denied the allegations and stated that the tunnel built by NTPC does not pass under Joshimath town. No blasting was carried out and the tunnel is being dug by a tunnel boring machine (TBM).
Only time can tell the whether the implications are a result of NTPC's Tapovan Vishnugad Hydro Power Project or from being a naturally landslide sensitive zone that has been affected due to the increasing construction of unauthorized buildings.
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