Saturday, June 3, 2023
30.1 C
Saturday, June 3, 2023
- Advertisement -corhaz 3

Since 1976, Joshimath Was Warned Of Being ‘Geologically Unstable’

The signs were there almost 50 years ago, when an 18-member group warned that Joshimath is “geologically unstable” and recommended a number of limits and corrective actions.

The committee was established to look into the reasons behind the landslides and sinking of Joshimath town. Its chairman was the then-Commissioner of Garhwal Mandal, Mahesh Chandra Mishra. It recommended limitations on heavy construction activity, cultivation on slopes, tree removal, the installation of pucca drainage to reduce rainwater seepage, a proper sewage system, and cement blocks on river banks to prevent erosion in its report dated May 7, 1976.

The Congress and BJP are now blaming one another for not putting the report’s recommendations into action in the midst of the current turmoil.

According to the research, the region has geological instability, which has led to landslides, road breaches, and localised land subsidence. Significant biotic disruption has occurred as a result of the rise in population and construction activity, it claimed.

According to the research, there are several potential causes of repeating landslides, including hillwash, the natural angle of repose, the presence of a cultivable region or habitation on ancient landslide debris mixed with glacial material, weathering, and stream undercutting. It might also be the result of movement along a large fracture plane that has formed.

Similar to this, cultivating an area that is situated on a slope will result in landslides. Because bare rocks are more vulnerable to weathering due to wear and tear, undercutting by Alaknanda and Dhauliganga river currents is also contributing to the occurrence of landslides. Rainfall and the melting of snow cause hill washing and water to percolate. The washing-off of debris causes the penetrating water in the rocks to move then, it stated.

The report noted that after 1962, significant construction projects were carried out in the region without proper systematic arrangements for regulated drainage, which caused water to percolate and eventually create landslides.

“The torrential velocity of water flowing down the slope makes the slopes bare. The percolating surface water saturates soft soil, washing it away and thus creating cavities in between the boulders. Boulders are without support now and get detached from the parent mass, resulting in slides. Repetition of this process steepens the slope further,” said the report.

It stated: “Trees are crucial as they operate as mechanical barriers to rain, boost the water conservation capacity, and hold the loose debris mass. This calls attention to the indiscriminate cutting down of trees. Similar to felling is an increase in grazing and browsing events. Several agencies have ruthlessly destroyed the natural forest cover in the Joshimath area. The rocky hillside is devoid of any vegetation. Lack of trees causes landslides and soil erosion. The detached boulders can’t be held in place by anything. Slips and slides are inevitable results.

According to the research, Joshimath is unsuitable for a township since it is located on a sand and stone deposit. According to the report, vibrations brought on by blasting and excessive traffic will also disturb the equilibrium of natural forces.

“The absence of adequate drainage infrastructure also contributes to landslides. Cavities between the earth and the boulders are the result of the existing soak pits. It will cause soil erosion and water seepage, it stated.

The report recommended corrective actions, stating that heavy construction work should only be permitted after analysing the soil’s ability to support loads. It would be prudent to refrain from excavating or blasting the slope to remove boulders for road repairs and other construction projects. It advised against removing rocks and stones from the base of hills in landslide-prone locations because doing so will weaken the hill’s foundation.

No tree should be cut down in the landslide region, and tree cutting for the purpose of supplying the township with charcoal, fuel, and timber may be carefully monitored. Agriculture must not be practised on hills. To preserve soil and water resources, a huge planting effort for trees and grass should be launched, it stated.

“Joshimath area is on permanent tectonic zones, which might be active in present times. Water seepage in the area is profuse. Therefore, to prevent any more landslides in the future, it is a must to stop the seepage of open rainwater below. Hence, the construction of a pucca drain system is a vital necessity. Construction of proper drainage, as has been done at Nainital where a portion of Mall (Road) was sinking, must be undertaken immediately. These drains should be pucca and should not be allowed to fall in the landslide area. Hanging boulders should be provided with support. Similar support should be provided to boulders lying at the foothills,” said the report.

Pushkar Singh Dhami, the chief minister of Uttarakhand, proposed similar steps last week, days after some homes reported significant fissures. In addition to the immediate response plan, he stated on Friday that the long-term planning process should be sped up and that work on treating danger zones, sewers, and drainage should be finished as soon as possible.

The Joshimath region, which spans 2.5 square kilometres, is home to some 3,900 residences and 400 commercial structures, according to information provided by the Chamoli district administration. The PM Awas Yojna included the construction of about 195 homes.

By Monday night, 678 of these homes and buildings had reported cracks. A total of 81 families have now been moved to temporary shelters after 27 additional families were evacuated on Monday.

Only 1,790 homes, according to municipal officials, file property taxes because the rest were built without authorization. “The majority of the residences in the region were built without any permits. The local development authority only approves the blueprints for people who want bank loans, according to a representative.

According to official documents, a District Level Development Authority official stated that since 2018, roughly 60 new homes have been constructed in the neighbourhood. However, he noted that “the actual number is far greater.”

More articles

- Advertisement -corhaz 300

Latest article