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Drawing the line

  • Published
    28th Sep, 2023


The crisis in Joshimath, Uttarakhand has highlighted land subsidence, lack of transparency, and the need for sustainable development.

Lack of Information Transparency

  • Calamitous Start to the Year: The year began with reports of the temple town of Joshimath in Uttarakhand sinking and showing cracks in buildings.
  • People fled and took refuge in tents due to fears of their homes collapsing, resulting in a humanitarian crisis.
  • Factors Behind Land Subsidence: The land subsidence issue was attributed to tunnelling activities from the Tapovan Vishnugad power project by the National Thermal Power Corporation.
  • Secrecy Surrounding Information: Satellite imagery was considered a factor in causing panic, and information was to be shared only after clearance from the Central government.

Infrastructure Risks in Uttarakhand

  • Non-Compliance with Building Codes: The region's fragile geology makes infrastructure projects, resembling cities, inherently risky.
  • Need for Monitoring: Comprehensive town planning and construction measures are essential to minimize the risk of accidents and loss of life.
  • Sustainable Development and Public Awareness: Governments must prioritize sustainable decisions over short-term electoral gains. Disseminating risk information widely and incorporating it into public consciousness is crucial.

Role of Scientific Counsel

  • Independent Scientific Counsel: Independent scientific advice should play a central role in policymaking, especially in geologically fragile regions.
  • Setting Development Limits: Clear boundaries should be established concerning the extent of development permissible in the region.
  • Creating Balance: Balancing citizens' needs with responsible land use and infrastructure development is essential.
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