Dehradun – Authorities in one of India’s Himalayas’ holiest towns were evacuating panicked residents on Sunday after hundreds of homes began yawning, cracking and sinking, officials said. said.
It’s unclear what caused the apparent subsidence in Joshimath, northern Uttarakhand, but residents blamed the construction of roads and tunnels for a nearby hydroelectric project.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi called a high-level meeting later on Sunday to discuss the matter after the government formed an expert panel to conduct a “rapid investigation” into the matter.
Local official Himanshu Khurana told AFP that at least 60 families had been moved to shelters and many more were likely to be moved from their sinking homes.
a resident said far more people had already fled their homes In a town of about 20,000 people, about 600 houses and hotels were sunk.
Another official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said some areas of the town had been “declared unsafe” and access was restricted.
“People are deeply concerned. The fear is that the town is sinking,” he said as helicopters surveyed the area.
Many locals have been forced to sleep in the freezing cold, with cracks in buildings and roads, some oozing brown muddy water, telling officials for weeks. He said he had warned them for months in some cases.
At about 1,800 meters above sea level, Joshimath is the main gateway to many important religious sites in the Himalayas and attracts thousands of pilgrims each year.
The town is home to a major Indian military base, as well as a strategic road to the disputed border with China, which has reportedly caused a major rift.
Damage was also seen in the pillars supporting the four-kilometer cable car ropeway, one of Asia’s largest cable car ropeways, which reportedly leads to the Auli ski resort.
The region is prone to earthquakes, and in recent years has seen a number of disasters that experts blame for not impeding melting glaciers and construction.
Construction projects include a hydroelectric power plant, as well as a major road to improve military access to China border areas and Modi’s favorite project, a Hindu pilgrimage site.
In February 2021, at least 200 people died in flash floods in Josimas and surrounding areas. AFPMore
https://www.straitstimes.com/asia/south-asia/indians-evacuated-from-sinking-holy-town Indians evacuated from ‘sinking’ holy city