In the foothills of the Himalayas, Joshimath is a small town built on the site of an ancient landslide that has seen a rapid rise in construction and population recently. The city, which is home to Lord Badrinath during the winter, a staging area for troops along the Sino-Indian border, and a base camp for Himalayan expeditions, has been making headlines for the wrong reasons: it is sinking.
Residents of the town are protesting and expressing concerns about sinking land. Several residents have reported that their homes have developed cracks, and they have been forced to find support structures in order to keep them from falling. In the region, more than 500 houses have developed cracks.
Recent research revealed that residents’ fears were true: the city is actually sinking from the ground up. A close eye is being kept on the situation in Joshimath, according to Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami. Joshimath is on the verge of disaster, but there’s more to the story than meets the eye.
Geographic factors are primarily responsible for Joshimath sinking. It was noted that the debris from landslides on which the city was built has a low bearing capacity, which makes it unsuitable for high construction rates. Experts have already made this point before. Over the past few decades, since construction has increased, hydroelectric projects have been constructed, and the National Highway has been widened, the slopes have become extremely unstable.
The nalas in the territory were blocked by sludge that came from the 2013 Himalayan tsunami. This also resulted in toe erosion. As well as erosion from streams flowing from Vishnuprayag, the city was also subject to sliding along natural streams. There is an accumulation of boulders, gneissic rocks, and loose soil on scattered rocks in the area following an old landslide.
The soil and land under Joshimath are not well suited to supporting heavy construction, particularly when laden with extra loads.
The area should be evacuated immediately if all construction and hydroelectric projects are underway. To adapt to the new variables and shifting geographical conditions, the town’s planning must be revised after residents have moved to a safer area.
Furthermore, experts recommend replanting vulnerable sites in order to preserve soil capacity. Joshimath needs to be saved with a coordinated effort between the government and civil organizations, assisted by military organizations like the BRO.
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