The National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC) of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has released satellite images of Joshimath in Uttarakhand showing rapid subsidence of the area. Between December 27, 2022 and January 8, 2023, the town sank 5.4 cm.
From April 2022 to November 2022, slow subsidence of up to 9cm was recorded in Joshimath, the gateway to several trekking locations and to religious places like Badrinath and Hemkunth Sahib. Residents were panic-stricken after roads, houses and other buildings started developing cracks with reports saying that the town is 'sinking'.
"The region subsided around 5 cm within a span of a few days and the areal extent of subsidence has also increased. But it is confined to the central part of Joshimath town," NRSC said.
What is happening in Joshimath?
Roads, hospitals, hotels and over 700 houses in Joshimath have developed cracks due to landslide-related creep, NRSC said. Joshimath has been declared a disaster-prone zone after reports emerged that the town was 'sinking' "Joshimath area has been declared disaster-prone. Two teams of Central government including a team of the Jal Shakti ministry are arriving here. Construction activities have been banned in Joshimath and nearby areas. Dry ration kits are being distributed to affected people," Chamoli District Magistrate Himanshu Khurana was quoted as saying by ANI early this week.
"The crown of the subsidence is located near Joshimath-Auli road at a height of 2180 m," NRSC said, adding that subsidence was limited to the central part of Joshimath town.
Why are locals protesting?
People in Joshimath have been asked to vacate their homes in view of the subsidence. Though they have been provided shelter by the administration, this hasn't allayed their fears as they continue to protest.
On Wednesday, BOOM reported that houses have been marked with red crosses to signify that they fall under the danger zone.
On Thursday, the Uttarakhand government announced a relief package of Rs 45 crore for nearly 3,000 families affected by the land subsidence in Joshimath. Uttrakhand Chief Minister was quoted by the ANI saying that Rs 50,000 has been given by the state disaster authority to each family for evacuation and shifting safer places.
The Times of India reported that "minor cracks" have appeared in over 25 buildings inside the Army brigade headquarters in Joshimath, which is adjacent to the Chinese border. The report quoted Army chief, General Manoj Pande saying that some jawans were being relocated to other nearby locations. "If needed, they would be permanently shifted to Auli,' he was quoted as saying.
"We remain prepared to relocate more units if required, but our operational preparedness remains intact," he was quoted as saying by the Hindustan Times.
He also said the army would be providing assistance to the local administration.