Land subsidence: Karnaprayag, Landour among Uttarakhand towns staring at disaster
Pictures of half-tilted houses at Bahuguna Nagar with huge cracks on their walls grabbed people's attention only after the land subsidence in Joshimath hit national headlines
The crisis in Joshimath has brought into focus the issue of land subsidence which has for years been threatening several places of Uttarakhand, including the pilgrim town of Karnaprayag and Landour.
Around 80 km from Joshimath, at least 50 houses at Bahuguna Nagar in Karnaprayag have been developing cracks since 2015. Locals hold gradual land subsidence responsible for the fissures and attribute it to the widening of the national highway, violation of norms in construction works related to mandi parishad, erosion caused by the Pindar river and unsystematic flushing out of rainwater.
Debris brought down by a landslide from above Bahuguna Nagar first inflicted damage to houses in 2015, former chairman of Karnaprayag municipal council Subhash Gairola said. The municipal council had intervened immediately and the damage was restricted. It, however, started aggravating with the widening of the national highway in recent years and the unsystematic flushing out of rainwater in absence of a drain along the Karnaprayag-Kankhool road.
Gairola said that Karnaprayag, being situated at the confluence of the Alaknanda and the Pindar rivers, suffers regular and heavy soil erosion during monsoon. Water also gushes into homes during monsoon, further weakening their foundations, he said.
"The mandi parishad also excavated the area with the help of JCBs during the construction of its buildings which may have further worsened the situation," Gairola added.
Pictures of half-tilted houses at Bahuguna Nagar with huge cracks on their walls grabbed people's attention only after the land subsidence in Joshimath hit national headlines.
Asked about the houses in Karnaprayag developing crack, Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami, who is in Joshimath, said, "It has been there for some time. But it will be discussed in the meetings over land subsidence to be held during the day." Parts of Chamoli district headquarters in Gopeshwar and Semi village near Guptkashi on the Kedarnath national highway face a similar situation, Gairola said, and demanded immediate assistance for the affected people as well as developing long-term plans to ensure the safety of locals.
Chamoli District Magistrate Himanshu Khurana said, "Families living in at-risk houses in Karnaprayag have been shifted to safety. We are taking the help of experts from IIT-Roorkee to solve the problem in Karnaprayag. They are studying the problem and preparing a detailed project report based on which remedial measures will be taken." Land subsidence has also been reported from Landour in Mussoorie and Atali village near Rishikesh.
A 100-metre stretch of the road from Landour Chowk to Kohinoor building in Mussoorie has been sinking slowly for the past 30 years, public representatives from the area said and attributed it to heavy construction activities in the hill town and a poor drainage system which causes waterlogging.
Mussoorie SDM Shailendra Singh Negi, who recently visited Landour to inspect the cracks, said land subsidence in the area is currently minor in nature. But in the larger public interest, the factors that have led to the situation are being studied so that corrective steps could be taken, he said.
In Atali village near Rishikesh, fissures have developed in the ground. Villagers claim that a railway tunnel being built in the area has caused the crack with Neighbouring Singtali, Lodsi, Kaudiyala and Bavani villages also affected.
SDM Devendra Negi said a team of experts has been constituted which will do an on-the-spot inspection of the affected villages on January 15.