Joshimath, Uttarakhand's historic town, will be destroyed if an under-construction National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) project near it is not halted, Anjal Prakash, IPCC Author and Faculty at ISB has said.
Prakash’s warning comes as scenes of panic are still being seen in Joshimath, in the Chamoli district, where more than 600 homes have developed cracks as the town continues to sink due to land subsidence. Environmentalists and locals have attributed the subsidence to the project.
Prakash said that the tunnelling process disrupts the area's water regimes. “They have shattered a groundwater regime that feeds both surface and groundwater. That water is now gushing out,” he said.
Referring to a similar event in 2009, he said, “This has not happened for the first time and the Joshimath area is where the groundwater has nowhere to go and it will sink the area that it has. Secondly, it is a very seismic zone.”
Prakash suggested that evacuation is needed and hydropower projects must be reconsidered and reviewed to avoid such incidents.
Meanwhile, Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami met with the affected families in Joshimath and inspected the area.
"Joshimath is an important and cultural place for us. Our main motive is to save everyone. Experts are trying to get the reasons behind it. We are trying to keep people at safe locations," Dhami said.
Joshimath is in the seismically active Zone V region and is located at an elevation of 6,000 feet in the Chamoli district of Uttarakhand between Badrinath and Hemkund Sahib. It is highly vulnerable to large earthquakes.
Joshimath's residents first became concerned when they noticed cracks in the town's buildings and streets, which they described as the town "gradually sinking."
On Friday, an abandoned temple in Joshimath's Singdhar neighbourhood collapsed. There weren't any losses of lives but the incident further alarmed locals who are now living in constant fear of a major catastrophe.
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