Joshimath, an Indian Himalayan town that has been gradually sinking into the ground, has had hundreds of residents evacuated. The BBC’s Vineet Khare spoke to specialists to determine whether the village might be spared as people waited in limbo.
Joshimath is located in the state of Uttarakhand, and its chief minister, Pushkar Singh Dhami, stated that the subsidence has affected almost 25% of the town’s territory.
Over 2.5 square kilometers, Joshimath, which has a 25,000 population, contains over 4,500 buildings (0.96 sq miles). Authorities have been tearing down the unsafe structures out of more than 800 buildings that have developed cracks.
Joshimath, which is situated in an area subject to earthquakes, was built on the remnants of a landslide brought on by an earthquake. Landslides are a frequent occurrence, weakening the soil. Geoscientist and adjunct professor at the National Institute of Advanced Studies, CP Rajendran, cautions that the subsidence won’t stop until a new lower level is reached.
Why is The Village “Sinking”?
According to experts, several things, including years of uncontrolled construction, hydropower projects, and the absence of an adequate drainage system, is to blame for the current situation.
Heavy development in Joshimath was subject to restrictions even in 1976, according to a government report, which recommended that it only be permitted after testing the “load-bearing capacity of the land.” Additionally, the research recommended establishing suitable sewage and drainage systems as well as concrete cement blocks to prevent erosion.
“The company is responsible for the damage to the historic, cultural town of Joshimath, and it should compensate residents,” says Atul Sati, the convenor of a group that has been holding protests to save the town.