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Joshimath: A resident shows cracks that appeared in a house in Joshimath, Friday, Jan. 13, 2023. (PTI Photo) (PTI01_13_2023_000227A)
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According to images released by the National Remote Sensing Centre of the Indian Space Research Organisation, Uttarakhand’s Joshimath has witnessed a rapid subsidence of nearly 5.4 cm in the past 12 days. The report stated that a subsidence of nearly 9 cm was recorded between April-November 2022.

The pictures were taken from the Cartosat-2S satellite.

“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,” the NRSC report said.

It said a subsidence zone resembling a generic landslide shape was identified – tapered top and fanning out at base.

The report noted that the crown of the subsidence was located near Joshimath-Auli road at a height of 2,180 metres.

The images show the Army Helipad and Narsingh Temple as the prominent landmarks in the subsidence zone that spans the central part of Joshimath town.

Joshimath, home to the monastery of Adi Sankaracharya and gateway to the Badrinath temple, is built on the deposits of an old landslide, which means the slopes can be destabilised even by slight triggers. The town is also in Zone V, denoting highest risk, in India’s seismic zonation scheme. 

Joshimath’s geological setting, together with the unplanned and rampant construction in and around the town, has resulted in land subsidence.

Also Read | Reckless spree: On Joshimath sinking

The signs of subsidence had first appeared in October 2021 but the situation became particularly alarming towards the end of 2022 and the beginning of 2023, when large parts of the town experienced sudden land-sinking and several houses developed major cracks as well.

A report on Joshimath published by the Uttarakhand State Disaster Management Authority (USDMA) in September 2022 said that floods in June 2013 and February 2021 heightened erosion in the area. Very heavy rains in October 2021 – 190 mm in 24 hours – also worsened the subsidence and vulnerability to landslides, it stated.

A few days ago, Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami visted Joshimath to take stock of the situation. He said the government is standing fully with the affected people of Joshimath, a town that has great religious, spiritual and cultural importance.

The government has already announced the evacuation of everyone living in the ‘danger zone’. Rent of ₹4,000 per month will be given to the displaced families.

(With inputs from PTI)


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