Why is Uttarakhand's holy town Joshimath sinking?
The town of Uttrakhand's Joshimath is sinking with each passing and day and due to which many buildings, infrastructure is seen developing cracks.
The Himalayan town is facing a major crisis as hundreds of houses have developed cracks due to sinking or subsidence of the land in the region.
Several families had to shift to make-shift homes as the risk of living in their homes is severe.
As of January 9, 678 homes in nine wards in the state had developed cracks and is unfit for residing, as per the government figures.
According to an article by Quartz, Joshimath's buildings first developed cracks in the 1960s.
Experts are of the opinion that the sinking of the holy town in Uttarakhand is for many reasons.
The top ones are -
Due to the location of the town. The town is apparently located in a seismic zone V, the zone which is said to be seismically the most active region.
The increasing population and tourist attractions have compelled the town to come up with rapid urbanization like construction of roads, hotels which becomes risky for a town who had formerly experienced heavy landslides and earthquakes as well. Meaning- Most of the construction is done on the debris of landslides, leading to smooth and eroded rocks and loose soil on the surface.
two major reasons are the two Hydropower projects- i) The NTPC Hydro Power
project which is why Joshimath surface is facing a serious instability and the
Tapovan Vishnugad Hydropower Plant, a 520 MW run-of-river hydroelectric
project, which has led to the ground and river of Joshimath being disturbed.
Recently, the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) too released satellite images which revealed that the town, Joshimath saw a rapid sinking of 5.4 cm in just 12 days.
Satellite images, taken from the Cartosat-2S satellite and released by ISRO's National Remote Sensing Centre, showed that Joshimath sank 5.4 cm between December 27 and January 8.
The report, quoting witnesses, said the massive soil sinking occurred due to "a rapid subsidence event that was triggered on January 2, 2023."
A day just after the release of the report, the National Disaster Management Authority issued a gag order.
The NDMA has barred Government organizations including ISRO to refrain from posting or updating anything about this matter out in public domain as it is very sensitive to the people of the place. The reports may create a sense of fear and confusion among the people. It said the organisations' "own interpretations" of data are creating confusion.
"It is observed that various government institutions are releasing data related to the subject matter in social media platform, and also they are interacting with media with their own interpretation of the situation. It is creating confusion not only among affected residents but also among citizens of the country," the NDMA letter said, adding that the issue was highlighted during a meeting chaired by Union Home Minister on January 12.
According to reports, for years, experts and environmentalists have warned about the repercussions about indiscriminate construction in the seismic zone V region in Uttarakhand but the warnings were ignored.
(With Inputs from NDTV, DNA)
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