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Joshimath crisis: Is rapid urbanisation taking a toll on the sinking Himalayan town?

While relocating people to safer locations is important, it is a short-term solution, akin to rescuing people from a fire that has spread, say experts.

January 27, 2023 / 08:23 AM IST
All construction activity in and around Joshimath in Uttarakhand's Chamoli District has been halted in the wake of cracks appearing in buildings in the town.
(Image: ANI/File)

All construction activity in and around Joshimath in Uttarakhand's Chamoli District has been halted in the wake of cracks appearing in buildings in the town. (Image: ANI/File)

The historical town of Joshimath in Uttarakhand, which is the gateway to pilgrimage centres such as Badrinath, the famous Sikh shrine Hemkund Sahib, the skiing resort Auli, as well as the Valley of Flowers, is sinking.

The town also has strategic importance as the cantonment at Joshimath is near the China border.

More than 600 houses and roads and roads have developed cracks, and the government has ordered the immediate evacuation of families in the area. Land subsidence, largely on account of a breached aquifer (an underground body of rock that holds groundwater), is the reason for this, say geological experts, and warn that the town is unlikely to survive.

Over the years, several hydroelectric, road, and tunnel construction projects have been undertaken in the region, they say.