Joshimath, a popular trekking and expedition destination in the Himalayas, is facing a dire situation. The city, home to 20,000 people, is sinking due to a geological phenomenon known as land subsidence. Cracks have appeared in homes and other structures, forcing families to abandon their homes and move to safer locations.
What exactly is the land subsidence Joshimath is experiencing today?
Subsidence is a gradual lowering of the surface caused by the loss of water, oil, and natural gas, as well as mineral resources from the earth. Joshimath is located nearly 300 km from Dehradun and is the starting point for the Valley of Flowers and the Hemkund Sahib Gurudwara. It is also the base for Auli and the Malari and Niti Valleys, known for their stark high-altitude landscapes.
What about the other geological hazards?
Joshimath’s location at the Himalayan foothills makes it prone to earthquakes, landslides, and erosion. An August 2022 geological survey by the Uttarakhand government reveals that the speed of erosion increased that year. Heavy rainfall and flash floods in 2021 have raised doubts about the vulnerability of the place to climate change.
As the city struggles with a growing crisis, many residents find themselves without a safe place to call home. The situation has become dire, with experts warning of impending disaster. In an effort to address the problem, the National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) project was halted by the district administration on January 5, 2023. In addition, 100 households have been evacuated in the last week to make way for specialists who are working to determine the cause of the crisis. The situation remains tense as the city braces for the worst.
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Balancing development and preserving nature for future generations
Tourists flock to the hills, causing a building boom. But this construction may become useless if forced to shut down. The increasing population of locals and tourists over-stresses the hills. Let nature heal itself, instead of interfering. The current situation in Joshimath is caused by human actions.
It’s time for action. Climate change is not just a distant threat; it is happening here and now, and it is affecting the lives of real people. We must take urgent steps to protect our environment and preserve the beauty of places like Joshimath for future generations.