Families flee homes as Uttarakhand village begins to sink

  • Prithviraj Singh, Hindustan Times, Dehradun
  • Updated: Oct 22, 2014 20:52 IST

About 40 families of an Uttarakhand village along the Mandakini bank are spending sleepless nights nowadays as the river is fast undercutting their land, forcing the village into a constant sink.

At least 10 families of Semi village in Rudraprayag district, 180 kilometres from Dehradun, have already shifted to safer locations on their own after their homes developed cracks, fissures and some even lost a portion due to the land sink.

They claim that about one-and-a-half kilometre of the village land has sunk by almost one foot in four-five months. However, the district administration is still busy computing the risk, they claim, adding this too after a team of geological experts submitted a report to the district administration in December 2013 highlighting the risk Semi villagers face due to side-coursing Mandakini.

Rudraprayag district magistrate Raghav Langar admits that the situation is risky and the villagers cannot be allowed to stay here till 2015 monsoon.

“We know that all the 40-45 families in this village have to be relocated to the safer places as the entire area is subsiding, he says. But, he is silent as to why the district administration didn’t address the issue on a war footing.

Post-2013 floods, as many as 23 families of the village were found living in unfit houses by the geological experts who immediately advised their relocation to safer places. As per the plan, they were to be given compensation for their immediate relocation. But, one year has passed and the district administration is still to disburse the residual amount to the victims, knowing full well that the delay may delay the shifting and put as many families to risk.

However, the district magistrate says that the disbursal will be made soon anytime and then they can choose the place to settle down.

“My newly constructed house where I lived with the families of my three sons has been rendered unfit to live” says 65-year-old Darshanlal, who shifted to a tin shed shelter 300 metres away from the risky spot.

Shivanand Nautiyal has also abandoned his concrete house and is living in under a tin shed on his relative’s plot. “Now I am awaiting compensation from the administration to begin the construction of the new house,” says Nautiyal. There are at least 10 more families like Darshanlal and Nautiyal’s who have moved to safer location and are awaiting compensation from the government. But, what about those who are still living on the sinking land?

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