Vikash Sharma

The images of land caving in and cracks in several houses and roads in Joshimath in Uttarakhand are enough to send chills down anybody’s spine. The state government has declared Joshimath as a ‘landslide-subsidence zone’ and made arrangements for the evacuation of people after nearly 600 houses developed cracks.

Efforts are also underway to evacuate other people to safer places. OTV visited Joshimath to access the reality on the ground as several people are still living in fear and a lot of apprehension. Several areas have been declared ‘no entry zones’ while NDRF and SDRF teams have been deployed as precautionary measure.

Be it roads, houses or temples, wide cracks have developed almost on every infrastructure at Joshimath. The place which used to buzz with activity, now mostly wears a deserted look. The sense of fear and panic can easily be gauged from the accounts of the local residents who are now at the mercy of the God.

“We are absolutely not feeling safe here. Our livelihood has been affected & our tenants have gone now,” said a local resident.

Another resident said, “All our houses have been damaged. The administration has provided us a room and five to six persons are staying in a single room.”

“The administration is visiting us and we request the state government to announce something as a one-time settlement so that we can move to some other place,” said another local resident.

Central agencies and other experts are trying to extend all possible help to Uttarakhand in preparing plans to deal with the sinking Joshimath. The Prime Minister's Office, after a high-level review meeting on Sunday, said that the priority is to ensure safety of people. An eight member team has also been formed to assess why such situation is occurring and what steps can be taken under the present situation.

The Uttarakhand government on Sunday had also declared Joshimath's all nine municipal wards as 'disaster affected' and 'unsafe for living' under the Disaster Management Act.

(Reported by Sibanand Rout)