Battered and bruised by the 2013 Uttarakhand floods, it had taken years for Bhagvat Chauhan’s family to put the pieces together. But now another crisis is knocking at their doorsteps in Lambagad, on the way to Badrinath and about 30 km from the “sinking town” of Joshimath.
The silence in the hamlet is interrupted only by a raging Alaknanda; the destruction visible in many villages lining its course, in cracked houses.
“There is not much to do in Lambagad. We had a small business in Badrinath. When tourism stopped after the pandemic, we started a hotel in Joshimath. But after the crisis here, our income is zero,” says Kamlesh, Chauhan’s nephew, showing us cracks in his house and several other homes. “Cracks are widening in around 40 houses here. Some people had them repaired but it did not help much.”
Chauhan is reminded of everything that has changed since the floods. “There was a good road here. Around 40 shops used to be here and there was a lot of activity. Our business was good but the road, shops and vehicles were all swept away in 2013. I lost about 4-5 lakh rupees.”
Babita Panvar, the head of Pandukeshwar village, 5 km away from Lambagad, says the sudden outlet of silt and water from the Vishnuprayag hydropower project had changed the topography of the village in 2013 and that many villagers, who are yet to recover from the loss, are afraid again after the crisis in Joshimath.
“Danger in this region has continued to rise after 2013 and disasters have happened consistently. The main cause of this is the continuous drilling of our mountains. The main cause of the disaster [in 2013] was the overflow of silt and water from the dam which washed away half of our village. Many houses, farms, shops and cattlesheds were washed away. The village completely changed. We are afraid of disasters, and the way Joshimath is sinking, it could happen here anytime too.”
This report was on Newslaundry Hindi. It’s part of the NL Sena series on the Joshimath crisis and other calamities waiting to happen in Uttarakhand. .