Joshimath sinking | People panic, projects stopped
POWER & RENEWABLE ENERGY

Joshimath sinking | People panic, projects stopped

The district administration has issued orders to stop work on the National Thermal Power Corporation's (NTPC) Tapovan Vishnugad hydropower project and all other construction activity in the area, including the Helang bypass road, as Joshimath town residents have reported an increase in landslides and hundreds of houses at the hill town in Uttarakhand developing cracks. One of Asia's longest ropeways, the Auli ropeway, also stopped operating.

Residents of Joshimath are in a panic as their homes are purportedly being damaged by construction because of unsafe fissures.

Numerous residents organised a day-long protest on Thursday under the leadership of Joshimath Bachao Sangharsh Samiti (JBSS). Up until 4 p.m., traffic on the Badrinath national route was significantly impacted, leaving tourists stranded. The people organised a march and demanded that the NTPC construction project be stopped and that they be immediately evacuated from the town.

Later, the Chamoli district administration ordered a suspension on building activity for the hydropower project and even the Helang bypass being built by the Border Road Organization in order to appease the demonstrators (BRO).

Joshimath's neighbour and main priest, Bhuwan Chandra Uniyal, appealed to the government for assistance. "The Joshimath town is currently dying. Make this Himalayan area heard throughout the nation," he said.

As a precaution, the district administration has also given NTPC and Hindustan Construction Company (HCC) orders to erect 2,000 pre-fabricated houses that will serve as shelters for families being relocated.

The government, according to protesters, disregarded their warnings regarding the NTPC's hasty building projects.

"Why, when we are about to sink, has the government now outlawed construction work? Why didn't they take notice of us sooner? inquired Atul, the JBSS convener.

According to sources, the Prime Minister's Office is also keeping an eye on the situation, and the Uttarakhand Chief Minister's Office has dispatched a team of officials from the Disaster Management Department to assess it.

To assess the situation, a group including the Garhwal Commissioner Sushil Kumar, the Disaster Management Secretary Ranjit Kumar Sinha, the Disaster Management Executive Officer Piyush Rautela, the Deputy Commandant of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), Rohitas Mishra, the scientist from the Landslide Mitigation Center Santoon Sarkar, and specialists from IIT Roorkee arrived in Joshimath on Thursday.

It should be noted that a similar team assembled by the government last year, which included specialists from the Wadia Institute of Himalyan Geology and IIT Roorkee among others, noted in their assessment that significant portions of Joshimath, located at a height of more than 6,000 feet, are sinking Joshimath was allegedly built on weak foundations, according to the report that the Disaster Management Department gave to the State government. The research also stated that inadequate drainage and river erosion have made matters worse in recent years, according to a representative who worked on the report's compilation last year.

The report had advised against continuing construction in some areas of the town. In addition to developing a successful drainage and sewage plan for the municipality, it also suggested actions like controlled development and ongoing monitoring of the impacted areas.

The district administration has issued orders to stop work on the National Thermal Power Corporation's (NTPC) Tapovan Vishnugad hydropower project and all other construction activity in the area, including the Helang bypass road, as Joshimath town residents have reported an increase in landslides and hundreds of houses at the hill town in Uttarakhand developing cracks. One of Asia's longest ropeways, the Auli ropeway, also stopped operating. Residents of Joshimath are in a panic as their homes are purportedly being damaged by construction because of unsafe fissures. Numerous residents organised a day-long protest on Thursday under the leadership of Joshimath Bachao Sangharsh Samiti (JBSS). Up until 4 p.m., traffic on the Badrinath national route was significantly impacted, leaving tourists stranded. The people organised a march and demanded that the NTPC construction project be stopped and that they be immediately evacuated from the town. Later, the Chamoli district administration ordered a suspension on building activity for the hydropower project and even the Helang bypass being built by the Border Road Organization in order to appease the demonstrators (BRO). Joshimath's neighbour and main priest, Bhuwan Chandra Uniyal, appealed to the government for assistance. The Joshimath town is currently dying. Make this Himalayan area heard throughout the nation, he said. As a precaution, the district administration has also given NTPC and Hindustan Construction Company (HCC) orders to erect 2,000 pre-fabricated houses that will serve as shelters for families being relocated. The government, according to protesters, disregarded their warnings regarding the NTPC's hasty building projects. Why, when we are about to sink, has the government now outlawed construction work? Why didn't they take notice of us sooner? inquired Atul, the JBSS convener. According to sources, the Prime Minister's Office is also keeping an eye on the situation, and the Uttarakhand Chief Minister's Office has dispatched a team of officials from the Disaster Management Department to assess it. To assess the situation, a group including the Garhwal Commissioner Sushil Kumar, the Disaster Management Secretary Ranjit Kumar Sinha, the Disaster Management Executive Officer Piyush Rautela, the Deputy Commandant of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), Rohitas Mishra, the scientist from the Landslide Mitigation Center Santoon Sarkar, and specialists from IIT Roorkee arrived in Joshimath on Thursday. It should be noted that a similar team assembled by the government last year, which included specialists from the Wadia Institute of Himalyan Geology and IIT Roorkee among others, noted in their assessment that significant portions of Joshimath, located at a height of more than 6,000 feet, are sinking Joshimath was allegedly built on weak foundations, according to the report that the Disaster Management Department gave to the State government. The research also stated that inadequate drainage and river erosion have made matters worse in recent years, according to a representative who worked on the report's compilation last year. The report had advised against continuing construction in some areas of the town. In addition to developing a successful drainage and sewage plan for the municipality, it also suggested actions like controlled development and ongoing monitoring of the impacted areas.

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