Uttarakhand’s Joshimath town has been declared as a disaster-prone area after large cracks appeared in homes and on roads, forcing the authorities to evacuate dozens of families from the town, ANI reported.

Himanshu Khurana, the magistrate of Chamoli district, where Joshimath is located, said that two teams formed by the Centre will reach the town later on Monday to assess the situation.

More than 600 houses in Joshimath have developed cracks due to land subsidence, which refers to the ground slowly sinking. Around 68 families have been moved to temporary shelters so far.

The Chamoli district magistrate said that the officials were providing dry ration supplies to the families who have been dishoused.

On Sunday, the prime minister’s office said that a multi-disciplinary expert team will study the situation in Uttarakhand and give recommendations to undertake corrective measures.

Situated in the ecologically fragile Himalayan region, Joshimath falls in a highly seismic zone. DM Banerjee, a scientist at the Indian National Science Academy, told ANI the construction of roads and tunnels for a nearby hydroelectric project were among the causes that has led to land subsidence.

“Joshimath is a part of the lesser Himalayas, the rocks are from the Precambrian era and the territory is of seismic zone 4,” he added. “Apart from this, people should not have made houses on this land, especially not big ones with 3-4 storeys.”