By Arun Pratap Singh
Dehradun, 6 Jan: President of the Uttarakhand Congress, Karan Mahra alleged today that Joshimath is suffering due to the indifferent attitude of the government. Addressing the media at Congress Bhawan, here, Mahra claimed that two major incidents had attracted the national attention towards Uttarakhand. One is the issue of land subsidence in Joshimath and the other is eviction of people in Vanbhulpura in Haldwani. He claimed that, since 1976, Joshimath has been known to be situated in weak mountainous terrain, which currently falls in the Seismic Zone 4 and is prone to frequent landslides. Committees of experts formed from time to time had recommended permitting only limited scale construction in Joshimath. However, the way work was being carried out by NTPC, a major threat of landslides and subsidence had emerged. The PCC Chief sought to remind that, a few months ago, in a natural disaster in Chamoli, many people were killed in a newly constructed tunnel and after that disaster cracks had appeared in the villages there.
He added that after the Kedarnath disaster in 2013, a committee had been constituted which had recommended that dams ought not to be constructed beyond 2200 feet above sea-level. Despite this, explosions are being undertaken by the companies even while being fully aware of the dangers of the seismic zone. The construction activity went on despite the threat of subsidence in Joshimath though local residents and many organisations were appealing to the government to stop construction of large projects in order to save Joshimath.
Mahra said that the then Badrinath MLA and presently the BJP State President Mahendra Bhatt did not discharge his responsibilities seriously. In 2021, when there was a BJP government, Mahendra Bhatt was the MLA of Badrinath. During that government, no effort was made by him to protect Joshimath and to stop the works of NTPC. The committee constituted in 2019 had recommended one way traffic towards Badrinath along this route. Mahra claimed that in case the traffic going to Badrinath is made to pass through Joshimath and the incoming traffic made to pass through Helang Bypass, the burden would be reduced.
Mahra also mentioned the 2005 Disaster Management Act enacted by the Manmohan Singh government. He claimed that, while earlier governments used to deal with the issues only after the disaster, the Manmohan Singh government, showing sensitivity, formed the Disaster Management Act in 2005, in which all kinds of rules were made on how to prepare before the occurrence. Disaster management departments were formed in the states, under which arrangements were made for the rescue, rehabilitation and resettlement of the people.
The Congress leader also claimed that the state government had adopted a completely negative attitude in the incident at Vanbhulpura. Due to this apathetic attitude of the government, the image of Uttarakhand had gone across the country as an insensitive state. The land has two inter colleges, two temples, gurudwara, bank and mosque and it is the responsibility of the government to protect its citizens. Nothing like this was seen from the government’s side.
State Vice President, Organisation, Mathura Dutt Joshi, Media Incharge PK Aggarwal, Chief Spokesperson Garima Dasauni, General Secretary Naveen Joshi, Anukriti Gusain, Nareshanand Nautiyal, Amarjeet Singh, Sheeshpal Bisht, Yakub Siddiqui were among those present at the press conference.