SC refuses urgent hearing on Joshimath crisis, says elected institutions exist to look into it
The town in Uttarkhand has been declared a disaster-prone area after large cracks appeared in homes and on roads.
The Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to list a plea seeking to declare the crisis in Uttarakhand’s Joshimath as a national disaster for urgent hearing, Live Law reported.
Over 600 houses in Joshimath town 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.
A bench comprising Chief Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice PS Narasimha, however, on Tuesday refused to list the plea filed by a religious leader for hearing on Wednesday.
“Everything which is important in the country need not come to us,” the bench remarked. “There are democratically elected institutions to see this. They can deal with what falls under their control.”
The court listed the matter for hearing on January 16.
Two hotels to be demolished
Meanwhile, the Chamoli district administration in Uttarakhand has ordered the demolition of two hotels in Joshimath after large cracks appeared in homes and on roads, The Times of India reported on Tuesday.
The authorities said that the Mount View hotel and the Malari Inn are leaning towards one another, posing a threat to several surrounding homes.
“Both the structures will be demolished mechanically immediately as they are subsiding [sinking],” said R Meenakshi Sundaram, the principal secretary to the chief minister.
A team from the Central Building Research Institute, Roorkee, has carried out a survey of both hotel buildings so that the structures can be demolished without any collateral damage.
To a question on whether more structures will be demolished, District Magistrate Himanshu Khurana said: “It is a developing situation and the survey to ascertain the vulnerability of the structures is currently underway. More structures will be demolished, if needed, keeping the safety of the people in mind.”
Meanwhile, the district administration has identified over 100 houses in municipal wards of Gandhinagar, Singhdhar, Manohar Bagh and Sunil that are vulnerable and ordered the immediate evacuation of families living in them.
On Monday, the district magistrate had said that Joshimath has been declared a disaster-prone area.
Khurana had said that a team from the Union home ministry will visit Joshimath on Tuesday to assess the situation there, according to ANI.
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.”