Doda land subsidence: GSI scientists visit Nai Basti village, no new cracks observed

Feb 05, 2023 01:12 AM IST

Doda district commissioner Vishesh Pal Mahajan said the GSI team visited the Nai Basti village this morning and collected some samples besides surveying the area where land subsidence has occurred.

A team of two scientists from Geological Survey of India (GSI) visited the Nai Basti village in Jammu and Kashmir’s Doda district on Saturday to analyse reasons behind land subsidence which so far has severely affected 22 houses and displaced over 300 persons since Thursday.

A resident shows cracks that have appeared in his house in Nai Basti area, in Doda district on Saturday. (PTI)
A resident shows cracks that have appeared in his house in Nai Basti area, in Doda district on Saturday. (PTI)

Doda district commissioner Vishesh Pal Mahajan said, “The GSI team visited the village this morning and collected some samples besides surveying the area where land subsidence has occurred.”

Mahajan said the report may take a day or two as they had to conduct some geological simulations before arriving at a conclusion.

“The status of the affected houses remains the same. Nineteen houses were severely affected and three collapsed since Thursday but there are no new cracks in the remaining houses so far. The area of subsidence hasn’t spread as well,” said the DC.

Mahajan also said, “Nai Basti land subsidence doesn’t seem to be a Joshimath-like crisis.”

Thathri sub-divisional magistrage Athar Amin Zargar, “Majority of the 300 villagers evacuated from the village have taken shelter in their relatives’ houses. In the relief camp set up by the administration, we have 30 to 40 people, who also prefer to go to their relatives’ houses at night.”

The administration, he informed, was providing them food and other necessities at the relief camp.

No compensation has been provided to the affected families so far. Preliminary findings suggested that the water from houses that kept seeping into the ground could have been one of the triggers as the area was an old sinking area in 1980s where new habitations came up over the years.

Another official, while quoting local geologists, said, “They (geologists) ruled out that a road constructed 40 years ago around the village and cutting of earth for constructing a shop could have triggered the land subsidence.”

At least 22 houses developed cracks, out of which three collapsed, in Jammu and Kashmir’s Doda district this week, prompting the evacuation of at least 300 people from their homes.

Local administration officials said the cracks were caused because parts of the land had appeared to have sunk, triggering a crisis that resembles the situation in another Himalayan town, Joshimath, where close to 900 people had to be relocated after over 180 homes developed cracks.

The development brings back spotlight on the settlements and development projects in Himalayan towns. Joshimath has been held up as an example of how these can go wrong, with a combination of geological impact due to construction of homes and business buildings, and larger projects like highways and dams, which together can pose a grave risk to the fragile topology of the mountains.

The Doda area falls under seismic zone 4, which indicates a high likelihood of destruction from earthquakes.

Meanwhile, Lieutenant-Governor Manoj Sinha on Saturday said his administration was keeping a close watch on the situation but denied it was similar to the Joshimath crisis. “The best possible assistance will be extended to the affected families of Nai Basti in the Thathri area. All affected people have been evacuated and there is no need to create hype. The administration is keeping a close eye on the (emerging) situation and the best possible action will be initiated,” Sinha told mediapersons on the sidelines of a function at Raj Bhawan here.

Asked if it was a Joshimath-like situation in the affected village, Sinha replied “absolutely not”.

“I do not have much knowledge (about cracks in structures). We should have faith in the expert opinion and let them analyse and come out with facts,” he responded to another query.


    A principal correspondent, Ravi Krishnan Khajuria is the bureau chief at Jammu. He covers politics, defence, crime, health and civic issues for Jammu city.

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