Home Dehradun Now, Badrinath Highway develops cracks! Question mark over Yatra!

Now, Badrinath Highway develops cracks! Question mark over Yatra!

By Arun Pratap Singh
Dehradun/Joshimath, 21 Jan: Various Central agencies are conducting their surveys and study in respect of the land subsidence in Joshimath, and also in respect of water discharge from certain areas of Joshimath. For past few days, the State as well as the district administration Chamoli have been claiming that cracks in the buildings were not widening anymore and also claiming that the water discharge from certain areas in Joshimath have also reduced significantly. However, new reasons for fresh concerns are now emerging in Joshimath. The most worrisome development is that cracks of one to two metres long have emerged along the Badrinath National Highway in Joshimath. This is seen in several locations along the only motor road leading to Badrinath Temple.
The district administration is presently trying to downplay the impact of these cracks and is also claiming that these cracks would be treated soon. However, so far, there is no concrete evidence available as to why these cracks have developed and if at all, they are treatable. In case these cracks widen in near future, the possibility of Yatra to Badrinath will come under cloud. The situation can become a major challenge for the government. Badrinath is one of the major Char Dhams and receives largest number of pilgrims every year when compared to the other three dhams namely Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamunotri. Besides this, Joshimath is the route also for Valley of Flowers, the revered Sikh shrine Hemkund Sahib as well as the border of China. In case of a possible land-lock, all these routes may get blocked or cut off.
Local sources claimed today that along the Badrinath National Highway in Joshimath, cracks have been noticed below the PWD Guest House and in front of SBI branch in the main market and also in JP Colony and Marwari.  Badrinath is only 46 km from Joshimath and presently this highway is the only motor route to Badrinath and Hemkund Sahib. An alternate route is being constructed from Helang bypassing the Joshimath town under the All Weather Road Project, but in the wake of the land subsidence, construction of this bypass has been stopped forthwith. The construction of this alternate route can’t be expected to begin, unless a clearance is given by the agencies and the NDMA conducing the ground survey in and around Joshimath. While several geological institutions and hydrological institutions are conducing separate studies, their reports are to be combined and a final report prepared by the NDMA. It remains to be seen, if the state government will now explore restart of the construction of this bypass in the wake of fresh cracks on the existing Highway road. Even if the construction of the Helang-Joshimath Bypass begins soon, it will take time for completion as for this, two major bridges are planned besides cutting of rocks on both sides of Helang and Marwari. In case, the cracks on the existing highway remain untreated, there will remain a big question mark over the possibility of Yatra to Badrinath this season. What happens, only time will tell however. The Char Dham Yatra usually begins in the month of April around the Akshaya Tritiya. The final dates of the opening of the portals of Badrinath have not been announced as yet. The decision in this respect is scheduled to be taken on the Basant Panchami which falls on 26 January this year.

Meanwhile, Secretary Disaster Management, Dr Ranjit Sinha has admitted that the government is aware of the cracks on the road of the Badrinath National Highway, but he added that the agencies have been directed to ensure complete repair of the Highway before the start of the Yatra season. For this, a technical report has been sought from IIT Roorkee if the work on Helang-Joshimath Bypass can be resumed early.