Even as authorities in Uttarakhand work out a massive plan to rehabilitate hundreds of families from the “sinking” Himalayan town of Joshimath, they have a similar task at hand – in a village in Uttarkashi district.
Located nearly 10-km away from Uttarkashi city, Mastani village has seen multiple landslides over the years, resulting in wide cracks in dozens of buildings. Now, these cracks are gradually widening further to alarming proportions.
Videos sent by The New Indian by villagers show wide cracks in playgrounds, agricultural fields, homes, and shops of Mastari village — wearing all similarities to the disastrous situation in Joshimath.
The village started sinking after a major earthquake in 1991. As complaints grew, the government sent a team to survey the village. In its report, the team recommended the rehabilitation of local residents in 1997.
More than 30 years have passed but the government is yet to initiate the process of permanently shifting people to other safer locations. On its part, the government maintains that the land for rehabilitation has been identified and the process would start after a geographical survey.
Speaking to The New Indian, Mastari gram panchayat head Satya Narayan Semwal said that the government is waiting for a disaster to happen. “Either the government declare that everything is well in Mastari, or come up with a plan to rehabilitate us at the earliest. Life has become very difficult here,” he said.
Meanwhile, chief minister Pushkar Singh Dhami said that the government is working on a rehabilitation plan for residents of Joshimath, the gateway town to Badrinath located in Chamoli district.
Speaking to reporters after chairing a high-level meeting last night, he said, “We are fully serious about the situation in Joshimath and are working for the resolution. Nearly 600 families are affected in Joshimath. Their evacuation to safer places is our priority. Senior officers are already camping in the town. We have planned both short-term and long-term plans.”
The chief minister said that the government has identified some areas like Pipalkoti and Gauchar as potential sites for the rehabilitation of Joshimath residents. “I have directed officials concerned to fast-track the process,” he said.
Dhami is also scheduled to visit Joshimath to take stock of the situation on Saturday.
Around 500 residential, commercial and government buildings have developed wide cracks in Joshimath, promoting authorities to shift as many as 49 families to safer places.