Located in an active seismic zone in Uttarakhand and built on a mountain of landslide debris, over 250 houses have reportedly developed huge cracks over the past few days. The hill town’s population of 25,000 is now terrified – and also furious at administrative apathy.
So, on Wednesday evening, thousands of locals took out a march.
Joshimath, known as the gateway to Badrinath, is about 6,000 feet above sea-level in Chamoli district. It’s home to multi-storey buildings and hotels, and also huge projects like the Chardham Yatra Marg. This, coupled with erosion along the Alaknanda river, has taken its toll.
Importantly, nearly 50 years ago, a committee under the then commissioner of Garhwal had warned of an impending crisis. It urged the administration not to dig and blast along the mountainside, or remove heavy stones.
The committee’s advice went unheeded.
Atul Sati, the convenor of the Joshimath Bachao Sangharsh Samiti, said a delegation had previously met with chief minister Pushkar Singh Dhami in Dehradun, who promised to look into the issue and asked the district magistrate to file a report.
But Sati does not believe the government is taking it seriously. And, meanwhile, their homes are falling into ruin.