Check carrying capacity of Joshimath, install drainage systems: Experts

Updated on Jan 09, 2023 04:49 AM IST

Following a survey, a team of bureaucrats and experts made several recommendations, which primarily include involving premier institutions to conduct studies on different aspects of the emerging situation in Joshimath.

A resident sits next to a cracked wall of her house at Joshimath in Chamoli district of India's Uttarakhand. (AFP)
A resident sits next to a cracked wall of her house at Joshimath in Chamoli district of India's Uttarakhand. (AFP)

Joshimath and its surrounding areas immediately need a drainage system that covers every house, a team of bureaucrats and experts has recommended to check land subsidence that has put several houses in the pilgrim town at risk of collapse.

All development activities should be monitored and encroachment of any kind must be avoided along the existing drainage channels, the team said, as it suggested several other measures to stabilise the land around the town that sees millions of pilgrims every year staying overnight on the way to the Badrinath shrine.

The team has been surveying Joshimath since Thursday to assess the scale of damage due to land subsidence. It comprises Garhwal commissioner Sushil Kumar, disaster management secretary Ranjit Kumar Sinha, disaster management executive officer Piyush Rautela, National Disaster Response Force deputy commandant Rohitas Mishra, landslide experts Shantanu Sarkar and BK Maheshwari from IIT Roorkee.

Following the survey, the team made several recommendations, which primarily include involving premier institutions to conduct studies on different aspects of the emerging situation in Joshimath, according to Sinha.

The team has recommended conducting a study on the carrying capacity of Joshimath and another for a detailed geotechnical investigation of the area.

The National Institute of Hydrology will be asked to check the water seepage in Joshimath and get to its source, Sinha said. “There will be a technical study of the carrying capacity of Joshimath town by IIT Roorkee also,” he added. “There will be real-time monitoring of seismic activities here.”

Given the geological vulnerability of Joshimath, which is located on an earlier landslide area, developmental and construction activities should be totally stopped in the most susceptible areas of the town, said Kalachand Sen, director at the Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology.

“We should also go into the root causes of the sinking phenomenon through a detailed study,” he said. “There should be a proper drainage and sewerage system so that there is no water percolation.”

The main recommendations of a study conducted by Uttarakhand State Disaster Management Authority in August need to be implemented, said Rautela. There is a need to immediately demarcate the population, infrastructure and other elements exposed to high risk, he added. All open surfaces should be identified and made impervious by providing a layer of rammed clay, Rautela said.

It has also been recommended that the rivulets of Ravigram, Nau Ganga, Kamad-Sema, Tehsil Chunar and Kamet Marwari be lined with graded drainage system with stepwise gradient along the slope, roads be properly compacted and consolidated during construction to reduce the subsidence, seepage from drains carrying stormwater and household wastewater be minimised through routine maintenance and repairs, and foundation soil of the houses showing continuous crack development be strengthened.

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