The Bold Voice of J&K

Nature’s fury in Joshimath

101

Omkar Dattatray

The calamity which has struck the Devboomi Joshimath is natural and it has caused much agony and suffering to the residents of this place as they were forced to leave their homes and hearths and it is a very painful experience for the people. The nature has played a cruel joke with the people of this mountainous place and they were left with no choice but to leave their homes and belongings. The tragedy in Joshimath is natural fury but the role of unregulated and unplanned construction activities is not less responsible for the unpleasant happening of sinking of the land in Joshimath and therefore it is imperative and necessary to control and regulate the constructions of buildings at Joshimath. The people of the Joshimath are facing worst kind of natural calamity as the land is sinking and cracking and with this the houses and other constructions have also developed cracks and there is danger that the houses in which people live and the people also are at a great risk to their lives and properties. Anger, despair, disquiet, frustration and tension are rite large on the face of the people living in Joshimath and they need help, succor and relief and rehabilitation. The government of Uttarakhand headed by chief minister Pushker Singh Dami should provide adequate relief to the affected people and also give compensation for the losses the people have suffered. Besides this the government should rehabilitate the people who have left their homes and hearths and fled to safer places out of compulsion. There are infrastructure projects worth Rs 40,ooo crore coming up in Chamoli district. NTPC’s Tapovan-Vishnugad project is one of them. Scientists have, time and again, declared Joshimath ecologically fragile as it is situated on an old landslide deposit, and advised against projects that involve blasting to cut mountains, tunneling and unabated disposal of debris into river. In fact the reckless and unregulated and unplanned constructions have also played its part and disaster is the result which has adversely affected the lives of the people in Joshimath. People of this unfortunate place who have been haunted by the sinking and cracking of land and because of this sinking there are cracks in the houses and other buildings of the residents. The unfortunate and unlucky residents of Joshimath are narrating their sorrowful experiences and woeful stories that move us all and bring shivers down the spine. A gilt of emotion rolls into one when one asks Atul Sati about the current situation in Joshimath. While Uttarakhand hill town has faced nature’s furry several times in the past, Sati, the convener of the Joshimath Bachao Sangrash Samiti sais tunneling for NTPC’s 520 MW hydro project has also contributed towards the present fury in Joshimath. The ongoing crisis in Joshimath has brought the focus on the climate crisis ailing several Himalayan towns and villages in Uttarakhand. While environmentalists say that this Chamoli town is damaged beyond repair, some other towns can be saved from nature’s fury by timely intervention. One such town is Nainital, a famous hill resort town situated at an elevation of roughly 2,ooo mts in the Kumaon region. Resting in its lap are Naini Lake, the Governor’s house and Uttarakhand high court besides many hotels, resorts and hundreds of homes. Hills surrounding Nainital valley are made of poor to fair rock class due to which the town has witnessed several landslides over the years. During British rule in 1880, nearly 150 people died in a major landslide in Nainital. There has been rapid land erosion and due to this the government has declared Hari Nagar neighborhood in Nainital as unsafe for human habitat. Speaking to reporters, union minister and senior BJP leader Ajay Bhatt said, “Cracks have been seen at many places in Nainital, Kranprayag, Mussoorie and Uttarkashi. We know that disasters are in our destiny because frail rocks form this part of Himalayas. Noneheless, our government is fully prepared before, during and after any disaster. Army, ITBP IAS officers are camping there.” Losing their homes and their past, the residents of Joshimath spend their time in fear and trepidation.” Losing their homes along with their past that they have built brick by brick, the residents of Uttarakhand’s Joshimath nor spend their time in fear and trepidation. Dreams of the children are being crushed under debris of relentless construction work and unregulated gentrification. In Chamoli district, located at a height of 6150 ft, nature’s fury is on full display in Joshimath as land is sinking water is leaking and houses and buildings are beginning to show deep cracks. People have had to flee their homes and in fact have fled for their safety. One such resident, Chandralekha Bhatt, holding back her tears, Chandralekha said, “We are four sisters, my father rears goats and takes care of the family. My mother was an only child, so my maternal grandfather built us a house. We were living happily. I also studied up to intermediate level and hoped that I would be able to support my family after completing my education. Nature, however decided to play this cruel joke on us.” She added, “Those who are staying in their homes during these cold nights are most fortunate. Of course, I am young, but when I see my mother’s tears, I am afraid that my mother’s time will come before me. She has told me that she built our house by carrying stones on her back.” Chandraleka, whose younger brother left the family a long ago, laments that her mother has stopped talking to her and the rest of the family. Maybe she is worried about how my daughters will get married. Now the house is abandoned, the fields and apple orchards have collapsed along with the Mansik Santulan (mental state) of our life.” Being the eldest, Chandralekha said that she is well aware of her mother’s situation.” As our house is collapsing, my mother is lurking in the corner of the courtyard. Even if I want to, I can’t shed two tears because if I breakdown, my family will break down. I have a duty to my family.” The residents of Joshimath are suffering extremely because of the sinking of land, cracking of land and as a result of this the cracks and chinks in their houses and other buildings and the very scene of their sufferings bring shivers down ones spine. The people of Joshimath are in the trouble because of the sinking and cracking of the land and their houses and the scientists, experts and authorities have declared many houses unsafe for living and asked the inmates to leave their houses and go to safer places. The centre and the state government of Uttarakhand is providing every kind of help to the affected people and have also promised rehabilitation in addition to relief to the affected people. The government is required to ban unregulated and reckless constructions so that the chances of such calamities in future will lessen but at the end one can say that humans have no control over nature but with the positive work and handling of this grave situation, government will be able to free people from the enormous suffering of the nature’s fury. We should use land and other natural things judiciously so that nature is not displeased with us and bring ruin to us. For this we humans should stop reckless constructions and save our land from erosion by planting trees on the banks of the rivers. To conclude we can say that the present natural fury in Joshimath is the indication that Kaluyuga has got strong roots and we should remember God who only can save us from these catastrophes.

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