Only a fourth of the homes in Uttarakhand’s “sinking town” Joshimath have cracks, Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami said today.
He also said Rs 1.5 lakh would be given as immediate relief to the worst affected families by this evening.
Over 700 homes and hotels are sinking in Joshimath, a town of around 20,000 people, and many have fled their homes over the past few days.
The Chief Minister said only 25 per cent of the buildings in the town had cracks and appealed to people to not spread panic, especially with the region prepping to receive pilgrims in a few weeks.
“The Badrinath yatra is going to start. But there are attempts to create an impression that the entire town is sinking and that there is a huge crisis in Uttarakhand,” Mr Dhami told NDTV.
“That is not the case. No one should spread this kind of talk that causes panic and impacts the people of Uttarakhand. We often face crises in this state but we fight them and overcome them. I prayed to God to help us overcome this crisis too.”
Mr Dhami also said his government planned to survey other towns to check for cracks and land subsidence like Joshimath. “We are studying other towns and how much weight they can take. Accordingly, we will take steps,” Mr Dhami said.
Joshimath, a temple town that is the gateway to popular pilgrimage sites like Badrinath, is facing a crisis with yawning cracks appearing in buildings and roads after years of unplanned infrastructure building.
Thousands of residents are being evacuated to safety. The state government will demolish the most damaged buildings in the next few days.
The town also hosts a major Indian army base and a strategic road to the disputed border with China that has also reportedly developed wide cracks.
The region is prone to earthquakes and has seen disasters in recent years blamed on melting glaciers and incessant construction and drilling in the mountains. In 2021, at least 200 people were killed in flash floods in Joshimath and surrounding areas in a disaster partly blamed on excessive development.