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1200 houses identified as located in unsafe zones

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CBRI submits report on Joshimath land subsidence

By Arun Pratap Singh

Dehradun, 24 Jan: CBRI (Central Building Research Institute) Roorkee, a Government of India, organisation, has submitted a preliminary report on land subsidence in Joshimath to the state government. This report has been submitted after a Geotechnical Survey conducted by the CBRI scientists. Though the district and the state administration claim that all unsafe buildings have been evacuated and the affected families provided alternate accommodation, the ground reality seems somewhat different.

As per the CBRI report, there are 1200 houses in 14 places in Joshimath, which have been identified as unsafe to live in. In their report, the CBRI scientists have called these locations high risk zones.

It may be recalled that, apart from CBRI Roorkee, many other institutions of the country are also investigating the underground cracks in Joshimath. Due to underground cracks in Joshimath, about 800 families have been shifted to safe places. In addition, 190 families have been given Rs 43 crores as compensation by the state government.

The scientists from CBRI Roorkee have also submitted a detailed report recommending the rehabilitation of 1200 houses located in the high risk zones.

It may be recalled that the government had ordered some surveys to be conducted by different agencies in different areas of Joshimath. The geotechnical survey conducted by the CBRI is one of them. Sources claimed that the final report is yet to be submitted but the preliminary report has revealed that no rocks have been detected even at a depth of 50 metres below the ground in Sunil Ward. At the same time, rocks were found while drilling in Manohar Bagh and Singhdhar ward. Similarly, in Marwari Ward, rocks were detected at a depth of about 48 metres below the ground. Samples are being collected from all these places, which will be sent to the lab. Geotechnical survey is being done by Fugro Company of Netherlands and Delhi Khanna Association Company. However, the final report of the geotechnical survey has not yet come.

The preliminary report however makes it clear that Joshimath remains a fragile zone with no or few rock structures even at a depth of more than 40 metres. This makes the area unsafe for buildings and any landslides or even a mild to moderate level earthquake can create large scale destruction in the area.

According to the scientists of CBRI, the houses and the mountains were examined separately because of the conditions created after the landslide in Joshimath. Joshimath was divided into three categories. Only after that the experts of CBRI Roorkee came to the conclusion that there are 1200 such buildings that are still under threat. Most of the houses are in Manohar Bagh, Singhdhar and Marwari Bazaar, which have been kept in high risk zones.

On the other hand, the Government level officials have only claimed that the report is being studied. The government claims that the state government and the central government are keeping an eye on the entire area. As per the guidelines being received, people are being shifted to safe places from the very first day. The government further states that the Chamoli district administration is ensuring from the first day that there is no loss of life or property in this entire area. As far as the report is concerned, it will be studied, after which whatever decision the government takes will be worked on.

It may be recalled that, last year, on 9 January, reports of large cracks in the ground and the buildings had surfaced. Two big hotels of Joshimath were also demolished. A large number of people were forced to leave their homes. Even today a large number of families are living in relief camps. It remains to be seen how seriously this preliminary report of the CBRI is taken by the state government and proactive action taken to shift the families living in 1,200 identified houses found so far as unsafe. The final report may add to the number of unsafe buildings in Joshimath. It may also be recalled that the Centre had recently approved an aid of Rs 1,000 crores to the state government which will be given in three instalments to deal with this issue in Joshimath.