Locals staged protests over compensation ahead of demolishing of two precariously standing hotels in the ‘sinking’ town of Joshimath on Tuesday while more families were evacuated and the Centre gave assurance to the Uttarakhand government for necessary assistance.
The Supreme Court refused an urgent hearing of a plea seeking the apex court’s intervention to declare the crisis in Joshimath a national disaster.
Here are the Latest Updates on the Joshimath Land Subsidence
- A bench of Chief Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice P S Narasimha rejected the urgent hearing of a plea of Swami Avimukteshwaranand Saraswati seeking the court’s intervention to declare the crisis in Joshimath a national disaster and listed it for hearing on January 16. “Everything important need not come to us. There are democratically elected institutions to look into it. We will list it on January 16," the CJI said.
- Minister of State for Defence Ajay Bhatt reached Joshimath and held discussions with the administrative officials at the Army base regarding the situation in the town. He also visited the subsidence-hit areas and met the affected people.
- MoS Defence Bhatt said the demolition exercise has been undertaken in public interest to secure the lives of people. “People have built their homes from hard-earned money but now they have to leave them. Our priority is to keep everybody safe. Thw Prime Minister is constantly monitoring the situation. Officials have been deployed and Army alerted. Cattle shelter will also be set up," he said.
- So far, 131 families have been shifted to the temporary relief centres with 37 more evacuated while the number of damaged houses in the town rose to 723, a Disaster Management Authority bulletin said.
- There are 86 houses in the area demarcated as an unsafe zone. The district administration put red cross marks on houses in the sinking town that are unsafe for living. A team led by CBRI’s chief scientist Dr DP Kanungo conducted a survey and said, “Due to land subsidence, there’re cracks appearing in the land due to which the foundation of buildings is quite affected. A seven-storey hotel building’s foundation has weakened and the building can’t be repaired, that’s why we’re demolishing it," he said.
- Residents bid teary adieu to their houses as they were evacuated from the structures marked ‘unsafe’ due to land subsidence. “This is my maternal home. I got married at the age of 19. My mother is 80 years old and I have an elder brother. We built this home by working hard and making an earning. We lived here for 60 years but it is all ending now,” said Bindu, one of the residents in Joshimath.
- Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami said, “The NDRF and SDRF teams are trying to ascertain the reason behind the sinking crisis. Our main motive is to ensure people’s safety and Prime Minister Modi is also concerned about it."
- The Central Building Research Institute (CBRI) will decide which buildings will be demolished in the ‘sinking’ town of Joshimath due to land subsidence, said District Magistrate of Chamoli Himanshu Khurana. “Demolition to be done by PWD with support of NDRF and SDRF,” he said. “Under the Disaster Management Act, we have issued notices to owner of the hotels which are set to be demolished,” he added. He also said authorities are shifting people to safe zones like hotels in Dharamshala and guest houses. “People have their belongings and cannot be shifted overnight. Hence, delay in the process,” he explained.
- Since Hotels Malari Inn and Mount View were reported to have been leaning towards each other dangerously, posing a threat to human settlements around them, the state government had on Monday directed the razing of unstable structures, starting with these two buildings.
- As State Disaster Relief Force (SDRF) personnel along with JCBs and workers arrived at the site, locals including the owner of the hotels staged protests over unfair compensation. “I am not protesting against the demolition of the hotel building but I’m demanding fair compensation from the government," Malari Inn owner Thakur Singh said as he laid down on the road in front of the hotel in protest.
- Demanding a one-time settlement plan, Singh was among hotel owners who expressed dismay over lack of clarity over the compensation and demolishment. “Decisions are being taken unilaterally without taking locals into confidence," a resident who runs a small business in town and was part of the protests said.
- Mount View owner Lalmani Semwal said the demolishment is like “slaying a child one has reared through years of hard work in front of its parent". “If the government has decided, what can we say. But we should be offered a one-time settlement plan in compensation on the lines of Badrinath," Semwal said.
- The Chief Development Officer (CDO) and a representative of the District Magistrate reached the protest site and held discussions with the locals regarding the matter. “Further action will be taken after a meeting is held tomorrow at 9.30 am," said the Chairman of Joshimath Municipal Corporation, Shailendra Pawar.
- Earth Sciences Minister Jitendra Singh announced that the Centre will install micro seismic observation systems at Joshimath. Meanwhile officials said seismic microzonation study for the area would generate risk resilient parameters for safer dwellings and infrastructure.
- The National Crisis Management Committee (NCMC) on Tuesday reviewed the situation in Joshimath and stressed that the immediate priority should be to ensure the complete and safe evacuation of all residents in the affected zone. Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba stressed that priority should also be accorded to the demolition of vulnerable structures in a safe manner, an official statement said.
- The chief secretary apprised the committee that the operation of the Joshimath-Auli ropeway has been discontinued and construction works in and around the Joshimath municipality area have been stopped till further orders. Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla said that a high-level team of home ministry officials, led by the secretary, border management, is currently at Joshimath for an assessment of the situation. The meeting was attended by top officials of various, members of the NDMA, the Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee, and the Scientific Secretary to the Chairman of the ISRO, among others.
- Badrinath MLA Rajendra Bhandari addressed people sitting on a dharna at the tehsil office for nearly a week against State-owned power producer NTPC. He said people should unitedly oppose the NTPC’s Tapovan-Vishnugad project, alleging it has contributed to the further weakening of Joshimath’s already brittle foundations as it is situated on landslide debris. The dharna is being organised by Joshimath Bachao Sangharsh Samiti.
(With inputs from agencies)
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