1st house collapse in crisis-hit Joshimath

Jan 24, 2023 01:14 AM IST

Dinesh Lal, the owner of the house, said he has been living with his family in a primary school in Singh Dhar since the first week of January, when their house developed major cracks and became uninhabitable.

Dehradun: A house collapsed in the Singh Dhar ward of Joshimath on Sunday morning, the first residence to fall due to land subsidence, officials familiar with the matter and the owner of the house said on Monday

The house which collapsed in Joshimath on Sunday. (HT Photo)
The house which collapsed in Joshimath on Sunday. (HT Photo)

Dinesh Lal, the owner of the house, said he has been living with his family in a primary school in Singh Dhar since the first week of January, when their house developed major cracks and became uninhabitable.

“My house, on which I spent 6-7 lakh, collapsed on Sunday morning. However, no official from the administration has come to see it. Its courtyard has also caved in,” said Lal, a labourer.

“A cow shed and other residential structures belonging to my brothers have also suffered major damages. We have given some of our cattle to relatives, while we tied others near the primary school where we are staying,” said the father of three children. “The situation in our ward is getting grimmer. The cracks in houses and fields are getting bigger and deeper.”

Chamoli district magistrate Himanshu Khurana confirmed the collapse and said: “It was already damaged and the family had vacated it. As per my knowledge, no other residential building in the town has collapsed.”

Atul Sati, convenor of Joshimath Bachao Sangharsh Samiti, said, “As the situation is getting grimmer in the town with each passing day, a house in Singh Dhar ward collapsed. It is the first residential building to collapse. Earlier, a nearby temple had collapsed.”

Also read: Joshimath: Rehabilitation still a tall task for admin

The collapse of Lal’s house is another indicator that subsidence related cracks have spread across Joshimath in the past month or so. About 130 building in six of the nine wards of Joshimath town had developed cracks until November 2022, according to Joshimath Bachao Sangharsh Samiti, a civil society organisation.

By January 23, 863 building spread across all nine wards have developed cracks. The first crack was reported in Gandhinagar ward in November 2021.

“The collapse of a house tells everything about the critical situation in the town, which needs immediate treatment. If authorities had paid heed on time to address the situation, it would have never happened,” said Hemant Dhyani, environmentalist and member of the panel examining the Char Dham roads project constituted by the Supreme Court. “Today, one residential structure has collapsed. If others follow tomorrow, I won’t be surprised. A detailed investigation should be completed as soon as possible. Without that, such incidents would continue to happen.”

As the situation worsened over time, the Chamoli administration has intensified its demolition drive. It used an excavating machine demolish Mount View hotel. Currently, 20 damaged structures are being demolished across the town, people aware of the matter said, declining to be named.

The properties include three houses, two hotels, and 15 structures in Jaypee Colony that have suffered extensive damage due to land subsidence. A Public Works Department rest house has been razed. The other unsafe structures will be brought down as instructed by Central Building Research Institute, Khurana said.

Six shops have also been vacated after a survey to assess the damage.

The first case of cracks appearing in a house was reported in the town’s Gandhi Nagar ward in November 2021, according to Atul Sati of Joshimath Bachao Sangharsh Samiti. By June, around 50-60 houses in Gandhi Nagar, Sunil, Ravigram and Manohar Bagh wards developed cracks.

Also read: Badrinath Yatra likely to be regulated in aftermath of Joshimath disaster

By November, over 130 houses developed cracks in six wards, except in Upper Bazar, Marwari and Parsari. In a significant rise, the number of houses affected with cracks rose to 500, affecting all nine wards, Sati said, citing a survey by the local civic body.

On January 4, two days after local residents heard a deep rumble and woke up to see long, deep cracks running down walls, the number of affected buildings was 561. In its latest bulletin on Sunday, Chamoli district administration said the number of affected buildings increased by 302 to 863.

The maximum number of houses (161) that developed cracks were in Ravigram ward, followed by Gandhinagar (156 houses). Of the total affected buildings, 181 are in the unsafe zone (not liveable) in Gandhinagar, Singh Dhar, Manohar Bagh and Sunil wards. The maximum number of people have been displaced from these wards.

On January 7, a temple dedicated to the kul devta (clan deity) of Lal’s family collapsed.

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