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Joshimath in Danger! Land is Sinking 2.5 Inches Annually, says IIRS

Joshimath and its surrounding areas have been sinking at a rate of 6.5 cm or 2.5 inch per year, according to a two-year study conducted by the Indian Institute of Remote Sensing (IIRS). The

Shivam Dwivedi
More than 110 families in Joshimath have evacuated, and the entire town is set to be evacuated
More than 110 families in Joshimath have evacuated, and the entire town is set to be evacuated

The institute in Dehradun has been using satellite data from the area, which has a lot of tectonic activity and is very sensitive. Joshimath, the temple town that had been known to be 'sinking' for some time, reached a tipping point this year as buildings and roads developed massive cracks. The pavements and streets are cracked.


Two hotels are now relying on one another. For reasons that are not entirely clear, water has been gushing out of farms. Another town 90 kilometres downhill has also begun to develop cracks. Locals in Joshimath blame the situation on the nearby Tapovan project of the National Thermal Power Corporation, or NTPC.

Satellite images taken between July 2020 and March 2022 show that the entire area is gradually sinking. The sinking areas are indicated by red dots. According to data, they are spread throughout the valley and are not limited to the town of Joshimath.

More than 110 families in Joshimath have evacuated, and the entire town is set to be evacuated. However, bulldozer demolition, which was supposed to begin today, was halted due to angry locals' protests. The town's traders and hotel owners, who rely heavily on pilgrim traffic, said they had not been informed in advance.


"I'm fine if my hotel is demolished in the public interest, even if it has some cracks in it. But I should have been informed beforehand "said Thakur Singh Rana, whose hotel was one of two that were demolished today.

"People have built their homes with their hard-earned money, but now they must leave," said Ajay Bhatt, the junior minister for defence and Uttarakhand MP who has been dispatched to the state to deal with the situation. "Our first priority is to keep everyone safe. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is keeping a close eye on the situation. Officials have been dispatched, and the army has been notified. Cattle shelters will also be built,” he went on to say.

Apart from hotels and commercial establishments, the Uttarakhand government has stated that 678 homes are currently in danger. The disaster is not confined to Joshimath. Residents of one locality, Bahuguna Nagar, in Karnaprayag, a town seen as the gateway to Joshimath, have reported massive cracks that have appeared in at least 50 homes in recent months. The Uttarakhand government has stated that it will investigate the situation.


Joshinath's problems appear to be primarily the result of human activity. A lot of water has been pumped out from beneath the ground for farming over the years, making the sand and stone fragile. The town has been slowly sinking as the soil has shifted. "The situation is alarming," says geologist DP Dobhal.


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