Joshimath and some other towns are sinking. Houses and hotels have cracks. Uttarakhand Government has ordered evacuations. Some people don’t want to leave.
Roads to Badrinath, Hemkund Sahib and Auli pass through Joshimath.
As per Indian Space Research Organisation (ISR0), between April and November 2022 Joshimath sank by 8.9 cm. Between 27/12/2022 and 8/1/2023 it sank by 5.4 cm.
There were warning about projects affecting Joshimath and other areas. They were ignored.
In 1976 Mishra Committee Report stated:
“Joshimath is a deposit of sand and stone — it is not the main rock — hence it was not suitable for a township. Vibrations produced by blasting, heavy traffic, etc., will lead to a disequilibrium in natural factors…”
In 1985, Chandi Prasad Bhatt, Navin Juyal and M. S. Kunwar wrote an article titled Vishnu Prayag Project: A risky venture in Higher Himalaya. It mentioned how for the development of Joshimath, enormous quantities of earth and boulders were removed using dynamites.
In 2001, National Remote Sensing Agency and 11 other scientific organisations did study Joshimath with remote sensing and Geographic Information System and submitted a detailed zone map to the Government of India to warn about the dangers.
In 2006, a scientific report warned that Joshimath is sinking 1 cm every year.
On 10/1/2023 environmentalist Vimlendu Jha blamed engineers of National Thermal Power Corporation engineers for sinking of Joshimath. He said main culprit is the development model pursued in Uttarakhand, in fact entire Himalayan region, starting from Dharamshala to Arunachal, the large-scale infrastructure projects posing threat fragile Himalayan ecosystem.
Many blame NTPC’s Tapovan Vishnugad Hydropower Plant for sinking of Joshimath. It is on Dhauliganga river. NTPC’s tunnel had problems in boring. Power Ministry said NTPC tunnel does not pass under Joshimath and sinking is due to natural causes and construction activities.
On 14/1/2023 ISRO released satellite images of Joshimath sinking on National Remote Sensing Centre’s site. On 15/1/2023 National Disaster Management Authority barred ISRO and other government institutions and sharing data on social media sites. It said releasing data with own interpretations creates confusion.
On 16/1/2023 Supreme Court refused to hear a petition asking it to declare Joshimath crisis a national disaster. It told the petitioner to approach Uttarakhand High Court.
People of Joshimath need rehabilitation. They will need new houses and many will have to find new jobs. Hotel owners will have a tough time to rebuild their business.