Demolitions in Joshimath deferred as locals protest | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Demolitions in Joshimath deferred as locals protest

By, Joshimath
Jan 10, 2023 11:43 PM IST

Protests erupted in Joshimath as the administration moved to demolish unstable buildings, including two precariously standing hotels, even as more structures developed cracks due to land subsidence that has threatened settlements in much of the hill town.

Protests erupted in Joshimath as the administration moved to demolish unstable buildings, including two precariously standing hotels, even as more structures developed cracks due to land subsidence that has threatened settlements in much of the hill town.

Local residents protest the demolitions near an affected hotel in Joshimath on Tuesday. (PTI)
Local residents protest the demolitions near an affected hotel in Joshimath on Tuesday. (PTI)

At least 45 more buildings were discovered with cracks, taking the total number of such structures to 723, with many possibly needing to be torn down.

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But the first of such demolitions, of buildings marked with a red X, ran into trouble on Tuesday as residents held demonstrations over compensation.

The owner of hotel Malari Inn, which is among the first set to be demolished, threatened to self-immolate if the authorities “forcefully try to demolish his property”.

Thakur Singh Rana, the Malari Inn owner, told HT, “I will kill myself by setting myself on fire if the authorities try to demolish my hotel. The authorities should first give us adequate compensation. It’s not just about me, but the people of the whole Joshimath. I am fighting for their rights.”

Malari Inn and Mount View, two adjacent hotels, have begun leaning towards each other dangerously, posing a threat to human settlements around them. The Uttarakhand government on Monday directed the razing of unstable structures, starting with these two buildings.

But, as State Disaster Relief Force (SDRF) personnel along with heavy machinery reached the site, Singh and other protestors lay in the way.

The protesters said there was no clarity on how people whose properties were to be demolished will be compensated.

Matbir Singh, one of the protesters, whose homes are located downhill from Malari Inn, said: “First the authorities should give them notice, then conduct financial assessment and make compensation accordingly before carrying out demolition.”

Bijaya, another protestor who identified using just one name, said: “Why are authorities not paying the compensation before demolition of unsafe properties? Today they are destroying the hotel without giving compensation to the hotel owner, tomorrow they will do the same with us.”

A third protester, Ukha Rawat, said: “I have five kids and taking care of them on my own. My husband died many years ago. If they demolish my house without compensation, where will I go?”

The authorities tried to persuade protesters but they remained at the spot till late on Tuesday.

Singh later claimed he was sent an estimate of 2.92 crore (worth of loss) and asked by the sub-divisional magistrate to sign it. “How can I sign it? I spent 6-7 crore on upgrading the hotel by 2011. I am with the state government so far as the safety of people is concerned but I don’t agree with the amount being offered to me as compensation,” he said.

Mount View owner Lalmani Semwal expressed similar sentiments.

“It is like slaying a child one has reared through years of hard work in front of its parent,” Semwal said.

Secretary, Disaster Management, Ranjit Sinha told reporters that the Central Building Research Institute, Roorkee has been roped in by the state government for the demolition.

As many as 131 families have been shifted to the temporary relief centres so far with 37 more evacuated on Tuesday while the number of damaged houses in the town rose to 723, a Disaster Management Authority bulletin said.

There are 86 houses in the area demarcated as an unsafe zone.

The National Crisis Management Committee (NCMC) on Tuesday reviewed the situation in Joshimath and stressed that the immediate priority should be to ensure the complete and safe evacuation of all residents in the affected zone.

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