Fresh cracks one-to-two metres have surfaced on the Badrinath national highway in Joshimath, the holy town that has been reeling under the crisis amid land subsidence, with cracks on hundreds of residential and commercial buildings leading to mass relocation of families.
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Cracks aren’t ‘a cause of concern’
However, the local authorities have suggested that cracks aren’t “a cause of concern”, and repair works will be done before the annual Badrinath pilgrimage, which usually starts in May.
Tourism Minister Satpal Maharaj has said that the government is looking after subsidence on Badrinath Highway while emphasising that Joshimath is safe.
Joshimath is not sinking: Tourism Minister
“Joshimath is not sinking, only the areas where people built septic tanks in their houses and did not have proper drainage have been affected. The rest of the Joshimath is safe,” he told India Today.
Additionally, Chamoli district magistrate Himanshu Khurana has reportedly said that the crack on the Badrinath highway is load-induced and is not a matter of concern.
Locals believe highway in ‘grip of land subsidence’
In contrast, the locals told Hindustan Times that highway has “cracks at different spots up to the Marwari flyover” and a large stretch of it is “in the grip of the land subsidence”.
In cognisance of the matter, the state disaster management secretary Ranjit Kumar Sinha said that the local management has kept track of the land subsidence on the highway and the road repairs would be done before the pilgrimage season.
He said the agencies concerned have been instructed to repair the road, adding that it would be done before the Char Dham Yatra.
Annual pilgrimage of Hindu holy sites
The Char Dham Yatra is an annual trek of the four Hindu shrines in Uttarakhand — Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath.
Hemkund Sahib, one of the most sacrosanct sites for Sikhs, is also attached to the Char Dham Yatra.
The pilgrims visit all four places one-by-one in a clockwise direction starting from Yamunotri, then Gangotri, Kedarnath and lastly, Badrinath. The four sanctums remain shut for around six months every year, opening in summer and closing with the onset of winter.
Over 863 houses of the around 4,500 buildings in Joshimath — known as the gateway to Badrinath and Hemkund Sahib pilgrimage sites — have developed cracks since October 2021.
Around 181 of the buildings in the town have been placed in the unsafe zone, and 275 families have been shifted to safer areas. As of now, a sum of Rs 3.62 crore has been allocated to affected families as interim relief for the land subsidence and landslides in Joshimath.
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