At a meeting of the National Crisis Management Committee (NCMC), Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba emphasized that the immediate priority must be the safe evacuation of all residents in the affected zone in Joshimath, where cracks have emerged in buildings and other structures.

Additionally, the NCMC stressed that vulnerable structures must be demolished in a safe manner. The chief secretary of Uttarakhand updated the committee on the current situation, informing that residents of severely damaged houses were being relocated to safe places and that relief shelters have been identified in Joshimath and Pipalkoti to accommodate affected families.

The state government is also providing appropriate compensation and relief measures. The chief secretary also reported that the operation of the Joshimath-Auli ropeway has been discontinued and construction works in and around the Joshimath municipality area have been halted until further notice.

Both national and state disaster response forces have been deployed to aid the district administration in their relief and rehabilitation efforts. The Cabinet Secretary reassured the chief secretary that all central agencies will continue to be available for necessary assistance.

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Cracks started developing in hundreds of homes earlier this month as Joshimath saw subsidence over a large area. Several families have been evacuated. Many were instructed to move into temporary relief centres or rent housing, for which the state government would provide each family with assistance of Rs 4000 per month for six months.

A report by an  eight-member government panel mentioned that hollow spaces in the ground, combined with uneven terrain, led to the large-scale subsidence.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court on Tuesday declined an urgent hearing on the Joshimath land subsidence issue saying that everything important need not go to the apex court. The court posted the matter for hearing on January 16. On the other hand, the demolition of hotels and buildings in Joshimath began later in the day. 

The Centre has also announced that it will install micro seismic observation systems in Joshimath. Earth Sciences Minister Jitendra Singh said the observation systems will be in place by Wednesday.

he said there was a critical need for fundamental research on the physical processes that lead to failure of the brittle layers beneath the crust and sub-crust. The minister noted that human consequences of natural disasters in India were rising rapidly and stressed on the need to devise proper mitigation strategies.

Singh said the Ministry of Earth Sciences had established 37 new seismological centres in the last two years for extensive observation facilities, generating a huge database for outcome-oriented analytics.


(With inputs from PTI.)

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