According to the National Remote Sensing Centre of the Indian space research organization (ISRO), Uttarakhand’s Joshimath saw a rapid subsidence of almost 5.4cm in 12 days.

According to the report, the land subsidence was slow between April and November 2022, during which Joshimath had sunk by 8.9cm. But between December 27, 2022, and January 8, 2023, the intensity of land subsidence increased and the town sank by 5,4cm in these 12 days.

NSRC has released satellite photographs of Joshimath as well as a preliminary assessment on land subsidence indicating that the town may collapse.

Imagine waking up one day and finding cracks in your home and on the roads. This is what happened with the people of Joshimath. The city is sinking. Over 60 homes and roads in the region have developed cracks and the residents are in a state of panic.

Cracks on the roads and fissures on the walls of houses at Karnaprayag 82km away have largely gone unreported, but are still occurring. A total of 169 families consisting of 589 members have so far been shifted to relief centers.

Soon there was an intense protest by the local residents who demanded a ban on all construction activities. This includes the Tapovan- Vishnugad hydropower project (rs 3000cr) and the Rs12,000 crore Char Dham road project that connects Gangotri, Yamunotri, Badrinath, and Kedarnath.

Joshimath has situated 6000ft in the Chamoli district of Uttarakhand. It is in seismically active zone V- a region with a high risk of earthquake. Increased construction, hydroelectric projects, widening of the national highways, and a decrease in water level have made the slopes highly unstable in the last couple of decades.

There are 835 rooms serving as relief centers in Joshimath and Pipalkoti which can together accommodate 3630 people. Interim assistance of Rs1.5 lakh has been paid so far to 42 affected families.

Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami said a committee would decide the market rate for compensation to be paid to the families affected in Joshimath keeping in mind the interests of stakeholders.

A Public Interest Litigation (PIL) was filed before the apex court by top Hindu religious leader and scholar Swami Avimukteshwaranand Saraswati. He had sought active support from the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) for the residents.

Besides, he had urged the Supreme Court to declare the land sinking incidents in the city as a ‘National disaster’ and direct authorities to pay compensation to the victims. The matter came up before a 2-Judge Bench of Justice PS Narasimha and Chief Justice of India, DY Chandrachud.

CJI DY Chandrachud stated, “Everything which is important in a country need not come to us. There are democratically elected institutions to see this. They can deal with what falls under their control. We’ll keep it on the 16th.”

Some facts about Joshimath

  • It’s a gateway to famous pilgrimage sites like Badrinath and Hemkund Sahib and the international skiing destination, Auli. Auli saw 4lakh visitors last year.
  • It is the last border town of strategic importance along the Indo- China border and falls into seismic zone V.
  • There are around 3900 houses and 400 commercial buildings spread across a 2.5 sq km area. 

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