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Demolition of Dilapidated Houses and Hotels Begins in Joshimath

After vacating houses identified by the government, electricity of all houses was disconnected; Demolition work started with demolishing hotel on Tuesday

The work of demolishing dilapidated houses and hotels in Joshimath has started. The government has identified 678 houses and two hotels damaged by landslides in Joshimath, which have been declared unsafe to live in. The action has been started from two hotels. First of all, Hotel Malari Inn and Mount View will be demolished.

After vacating the houses identified by the government, the electricity of all the houses has been disconnected. Also, the work of demolishing the hotel started on Tuesday, but the family of the hotel owner is sitting at the gate- protesting against the demolition of the hotel.

Due to this, there was a huge uproar and a scuffle with the police. The owner of the hotel has said that notice should have been given before demolishing the hotel. Thakur Singh Rana, owner of Malari Inn Hotel told ANI news agency that “if the hotel is being demolished in the public interest then I am with the government and administration
even if my hotel has partial cracks. But I should have been given notice and appraised. I request for evaluation.”

But the police have started the process of demolishing the hotels by placing barricades near both hotels. During this, the Badrinath Highway has been blocked. At the same time, vehicles are being made to move from Auli Army Road. The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) team remained present on the spot, while the people around were removed by the administration by the announcement. During this, people were appealed to stay away from the houses being demolished.

Along with this, many people affected by the landslide have also accused the government of not helping them. In the ground report, people told NewsClick, “we have been removed from our homes and shifted to schools, but we have not been able to get any other help from the government.” Among the residents, many people are labourers, “our wages have stopped due to the disaster, due to which We are facing many difficulties,” they added.

Although Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami has promised to provide all possible facilities to the people during his visit to Joshimath, the administration has also asked to speed up the relief work and airlift the citizens if needed.

DM of Chamoli district Himanshu Khurana has informed through his Twitter handle that families rendered homeless due to natural calamity will be given Rs 4,000 per month for rent from the Chief Minister's Relief Fund for six months. Along with this, distribution of assistance amount at the rate of Rs 5,000 per family to 46 disaster-affected families in Joshimath and dry ration kits will be made available to the needy people.

Meanwhile, in the midst of the landslide crisis in the city, the Dhami government has now completely banned construction in Joshimath that exceeds the prescribed standards. Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami has given instructions to the chairpersons of the district authorities that whatever construction work is going on in the hill state beyond the prescribed standard, it should be completely stopped.

However, whatever path the government is adopting now, the government is responsible for this condition of Joshimath, the local people say that this condition of Joshimath has happened due to NTPC's hydroelectric project. In the report of the Mishra Commission in the year 1976, it was said that tampering with the roots of Joshimath could prove to be a threat to Joshimath.

Also, a survey of Joshimath was conducted by the commission, in which Joshimath was said to be inhabited by the soil that came with the glacier, which was considered very sensitive. In the report, it was asked not to disturb the rocks and stones attached to the root of Joshimath at all. At the same time, a request was made to cover the construction going on here in a limited scope.

Work is underway on NTPC's 520 MW hydroelectric project in Joshimath, while on the other hand, the construction of the Helang Marwari Bypass has also started. Many big agitations were also done to stop such projects, but the government did not pay attention at all, due to which the landslide started in Joshimath.

Why did the cracks in the houses and the creaking of the roads suddenly increase in Joshimath? Why didn't these incidents happen earlier? In response to this question, experts say that incidents of cracks in houses had come earlier also. However, their number was less. As construction activities have increased in that area, projects have been implemented. This has also increased the blasting.

Because of these cracks, this effect is being caused because of the projects. Excavation takes place inside the mountains for tunnel construction rendering the mountains unstable which is a matter of investigation. Dr Tayal said that the impacts of the projects of the last two years have to be studied. Only after this, the real reason behind it will be revealed.

A recent two-year study by the Edenian Institute of Remote Sensing found that Joshimath and its surrounding areas were sinking at a rate of 6.5 cm or 2.5 inches per year. This study has been done by the Dehradun-based institute using satellite data. It is being discussed across the country after cracks appeared in many houses in Joshimath recently. Satellite images collected from July 2020 to March 2022 show that the entire region is slowly sinking. The data shows that it is not just confined to Joshimath.

Along with this, Dr S.P Sati, Associate Professor of Environmental Science at Forestry College, Ranichauri, Uttarakhand says that it is impossible to improve the condition of Joshimath today. “Looking at the speed with which the rift is increasing in Joshimath, it seems as if most of the land of Joshimath will not survive now. That's why the administration should pay attention to the temporary arrangement for the evacuation of those who are still in Joshimath and for their stay. But, if we want that the condition of any other city in the state should not be like this, then we need to formulate some concrete policy for that,” Sati said.

Anup Nautiyal, the founder of the Social Development for Communities Foundation, says that it is difficult to stop what is happening in Joshimath immediately. “There should be no major loss to the public, so the government should take the people of Joshimath to a safe place as soon as possible,” he said.

It is being told by the administration that arrangements have been made for the families whose houses are no longer fit to live, in the municipal buildings, primary schools, gurudwaras and some lodges. Nautiyal questions this claim and asks, “are these buildings safe? These buildings are also inside Joshimath.”

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