Government official tells Down To Earth situation is not similar to Joshimath
Some 300 people have been shifted to temporary and makeshift accommodation in a village of Doda district in the Union territory of Jammu and Kashmir after some houses collapsed and others developed cracks, a local official told Down To Earth February 3, 2023.
The incident, similar to the recent happenings in the Uttarakhand town of Joshimath, happened in the village of Nai Basti, near the town of Thathri in Doda district.
The village is located 35 km from Doda city, on the Kishtwar-Batote National Highway, Mohd Ashraf Wani, district information officer of Doda told Down To Earth on the phone.
Athar Amin Zargar, the subdivisional magistrate of Thathri, told DTE on the phone that the situation in the areas was “under control”.
“This started on February 1, 2023 when six houses were affected. Yesterday, 10 were affected. Today, 21 are. But the number has not gone up since the morning. Some houses have fallen. Others have cracks,” Zargar said.
“We have evacuated people who were residing in the area. These number 300. Of these, 80 are madrassa (Islamic seminary) students. The remaining 220 are house owners, their families and tenants,” he added.
Zargar said the incident in Nai Basti was not like Joshimath. Land subsidence, a common occurrence in the Himalayas, is common around Thathri and other places in the Chenab Valley, he claimed.
“This (Nai Basti and Thathri) was a subsidence-prone zone before 1988. Those who live here now, came at the height of the Kashmir insurgency. They were forced to make their homes as they had nowhere else to go. This could have played a role,” Zargar claimed.
Wani said Thathri was located on a steep incline along the Chenab. “No expansion is possible within the town. So it is expanding upwards and that is why this village has come higher up on the hill. No wonder it is called ‘Nai Basti’ or new settlement,” he said.
He added that a team of experts from the district administration will assess as to what exactly is the cause of the land subsidence.
DTE reached out to veteran environmentalist Ravi Chopra. “I cannot comment since I have not done research on that area,” he said.
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