Protests to highlight cracks developing in several homes in Uttarakhand’s Joshimath town continued on Thursday even as the state government began evacuating at-risk families, reported PTI.

The town also observed a shutdown to protest administrative inaction, said Atul Sati, the convenor of group Joshimath Bachao Sangharsh Samiti. Residents shouted slogans and blocked roads in protest, while business establishments remained closed, he added.

The residents had held a torchlight protest on Wednesday night as well.

Located at a height of 6,000 feet in Uttarakhand’s Chamoli district, Joshimath falls in the high-risk seismic zone V.

According to the Chamoli Disaster Management Department, 561 homes in the town have developed cracks as land subsidence continues in the district, reported ANI. Water seepage from below the ground level is also prevalent in JP Colony area, according to the agency.

Subsidence refers to sinking of the earth’s surface due to geologic or man-induced causes.

On Thursday, Sati claimed that the land was sinking due to the National Thermal Power Corporation’s projects in the area.

The sub-divisional magistrate had arrived at the protest site to pacify the protestors but he was told that the agitation will continue till the administration takes decisive action on their demands, PTI reported.

Sati said that the protestors are demanding immediate rehabilitation of the residents, a halt to the construction of an NTPC tunnel and a bypass road for Badrinath and fixing responsibility for the subsidence on the NTPC’s Tapovan-Vishnugad hydel project.

Meanwhile, District Disaster Management Officer NK Joshi said that 29 families have been evacuated in Joshimath, reported PTI. Joshi also said that so far, 561 homes in different areas of the town have developed cracks, including 153 in Ravigram, 127 in Gandhinagar, 71 in Manoharbagh, 52 in Singhdhar, 50 in Parsari, 29 in Upper Bazar, 27 in Suneel, 28 in Marwadi and 24 in Lower Bazar.

He said that the degree of damage differs from home to home and that the worst-hit families have been evacuated.

Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami said he was closely monitoring the situation in Joshimath and will himself visit the town to assess the situation.

To evaluate subsidence and damages in Joshimath, the Bharatiya Janata Party has formed a 14-member committee, reported ANI.

“The committee constituted on the instructions of state president Mahendra Prasad Bhatt will visit the site on January 6 and hold talks with local residents, businessmen and public representatives and submit its report to the state leadership,” said Manveer Singh Chauhan, who is in charge of party’s media desk.