Authorities in Uttarakhand on Wednesday extended the demolition exercise in Joshimath to unsafe private buildings and issued orders to pull down two houses besides a PWD guest house near the main market.
In Delhi, Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami sought to allay fears, saying 65-70 per cent people in Joshimath, where cracks appeared in buildings and other structures, are leading a normal life and the Char Dham Yatra will commence in four months.
After meeting Union Home Minister Amit Shah, whom he briefed about the prevailing situation in Joshimath, Dhami said there is no need for panic due to the Joshimath situation and people from other parts of the country should not comment about it.
“65-70 per cent people in Joshimath are living a normal life. In nearby Auli, which is a tourist attraction, everything is going on normally. Tourists are still visiting Auli,” Dhami told reporters here.
He said the Char Dham Yatra, one of the renowned pilgrimage for the Hindus which takes pilgrims to four holiest sites, including Kedarnath and Badrinath via Joshimath, will start in next four months. He also said the Centre has assured all assistance to deal with the current situation arising out in the hill station.
Meanwhile, the two private houses to be demolished are located in Manoharbagh which falls under ward no 5 of Joshimath municipal area. The owners have given their consent for the demolition in writing. The PWD dak bungalow was constructed after 1976.
These buildings had been declared unsafe by the Central Building Research Institute which is the nodal agency for the exercise.
The orders for demolition were issued by Chamoli District Magistrate Himanshu Khurana.
Before this orders for the demolition of two hotels, Malari Inn and Mount View were issued and their scientific dismantling under CBRI supervision is underway.
Amid rising concerns over subsidence-hit Joshimath, authorities are worried about a different matter – where to keep the riches of Badrinath safeguarded at Narsingh temple.
Though authorities claim the temple is secure as of now, they have begun looking for alternative locations nearby where the riches containing a huge quantity gold and silver besides other offerings can be kept in case the situation in the town worsens further.
The worst-hit Singdhar ward and JP colony are located at an aerial distance of just half a kilometre from Narsingh temple adding to the worries of authorities.
Lord Vishnu, the presiding deity of Badrinath is worshipped at Narsingh temple in Joshimath after the portals of the Himalayan temple are closed for winter.
The riches of Badrinath are also brought down to the Narsingh temple during winter.
“There are no cracks yet in the Narsingh temple and its premises. But as a precautionary step we have made an alternative plan as to where to shift the riches if it becomes inevitable,” Badrinath-Kedarnath Temple Committee chairman Ajendra Ajay told PTI.
“We have explored the alternative locations and found a guest house in Pipalkoti most appropriate for the purpose,” Ajay said.
“Some people have also suggested a location in Pandukeshwar,” he said.
“However, there is no need as yet to shift the riches anywhere. We pray to the lord that such an eventuality does not arise,” he said.
In Dehradun, the National Institute of Hydrology said the profiles of water samples taken from JP colony in Joshimath and NTPC project site are different.
Citing a preliminary report of the National Institute of Hydrology (NIH) which studied the water samples of the two places, Secretary Disaster Management Ranjit Kumar Sinha said, “However, as I said, it is just a preliminary report from which no conclusion should be drawn.”
The NIH’s observation is significant as it comes amid widespread allegations that the crisis in Joshimath was caused by the NTPC’s Tapovan-Vishnugad hydel project and the underground channel burst on January 2 from which water has been flowing constantly was also a result of it.
Meanwhile, Chief Secretary S S Sandhu asked the central technical institutions conducting separate studies of land-subsidence in Joshimath to further squeeze the timeline for the submission of their reports as it was an issue of national priority.
The different institutions were asked to share their reports with each other and reconcile them before their submission so that there is no incoherence, Sinha said.
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(This story has not been edited by News18 staff and is published from a syndicated news agency feed)