Uttarakhand's Char Dham Road: Joshimath 'Will Sink' If Excavation Doesn't Stop, Warn Scientists After A Recent Survey, Says Report
Works for the power plants project, the Char Dham road, are ongoing in the town.
The construction, the report mentions, is among the "top external forces supplementing the stress" in the landscape.
A group of scientists has pointed out that Joshimath in Uttarakhand "will sink" unless excavation for the different developmental works is stopped immediately, says a Times of India report.
Raini, the village where nearly 200 people died in the floods in 2021, lies in the region. The scientists, part of a team reportedly "formed at the request of locals", are looking into the concerns raised by the residents of Chamoli district regarding the impact of construction and development activities on Joshimath.
The team including scientists Dr Navin Juyal from the Supreme Court - appointed Char Dham high-powered committee, Dr SP Sati and Professor Shubhra Sharm has stressed on the need for another integrated study involving glaciologists, geologists, botanists and environmentalists.
The town of Joshimath is known for its specific geological conditions and the impact on its geography and ecology. In 2021, the flash flood involving the Rishiganga river damaged MW Rishiganga near Raini, and 520 MW Tapovan Vishnugad near Tapovan village, taking away lives of 204 people. Several were said missing.
Six months after the floods, people from Raini and Joshimath had raised the issue and approached the Uttarakhand High Court. The HC bench reportedly observed that the petition seems to be “highly motivated'' and the petitioners were “mere puppets in the hands of an unknown puppeteer." Atul Sati of the Joshimath Bachao Sangharsh Samiti, reports say, was one of the petitioners.
Works for the power plants project, the Char Dham road, are ongoing in the town. The construction, the report mentions, is among the "top external forces supplementing the stress" in the landscape. The Helang-Marwari bypass road on Badrinath highway under the All Weather Road project has been in news.
The 'Joshimath Bachao Sangharsh Samiti' agitated against the route enveloped in the project. Construction could not take place due to the agitation. The matter then reached the Supreme Court.
The TOI report mentions that the scientists have pointed out that the widening of the 20 km-stretch -- between Helang and Marwari should be carried out "after the state of the art slope development".
The same report quotes Atul Sati of the Joshimath Bachao Sangharsh Samiti saying that locals wanted to approach an independent body of experts to conduct a survey after failing to get a response from the state government.
The locals have spoken their concerns regarding land subsidence and soil creep. TOI mentions that the report from the experts states that "as an immediate measure, there should not be any excavation activities, particularly if the precariously balanced crystalline boulders."
The Char Dham road is of strategic importance to life and people of Uttarakhand. It is vital to India from the defence perspective owing to the fact that Uttarakhand is a border state. The Char Dham road is India's defence requirement for troop build-up along the India-China border.
Last year, the Supreme Court cleared the way for widening of roads under the centre’s ambitious Char Dham project. The Court had reportedly rejected arguments raised by the applicant NGO “Citizens for Doon".
The SC judgment had upheld the government’s mandate to broaden the Himalayan highways which are considered crucial by the Ministry of Defence for speedy troop build-up along the India-China border.
Earlier this year, the Supreme Court asked its former judge Justice AK Sikri to head a high-powered committee which independently monitors the environmental impact of the Char Dham road project.
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