Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami on Wednesday visited Joshimath, where a crisis has emerged due to the gradual sinking of the ground surface.

The chief minister met residents impacted by the crisis amid continued protests in the town seeking higher compensation than being offered and opposing proposed demolitions.

According to official figures, 723 homes have developed cracks due to land subsidence, or the slow sinking of the ground surface. A total of 462 persons have been moved to temporary shelters.

On Wednesday, Dhami told reporters in Joshimath that the administration stands with the residents of the town. “The prime minister is personally monitoring the situation,” he said, according to PTI. “I have his full support.”

The chief minister said that compensation to the affected residents will be given as per market rates that will be ascertained after taking all stakeholders into confidence. The government will give interim assistance of Rs 1.5 lakh to the affected persons and will work out details of relief and rehabilitation, he added.

The state government has formed a 19-member committee headed by District Magistrate Himanshu Khurana to distribute financial assistance and ascertain the rates of compensation to be provided in the rehabilitation package.

Dhami also told reporters that only two hotels will be mechanically demolished, using cranes and excavators, and not the homes that have been marked as unsafe.

Local authorities have marked 86 homes as unsafe for living, forcing many residents to seek shelter in different areas. The homes have been marked with red cross marks.

The administration, meanwhile, is planning to demolish the Mount View hotel and the Malari Inn, stating that the two buildings are leaning towards one another, posing a threat to several surrounding homes.

The demolition was slated to take place on Tuesday, but could not proceed after hotel owners and residents held protests at the site. On Wednesday as well, residents stalled the demolition by holding protests in front of the Malari Inn, the Hindustan Times reported.

The owner of the Malari Inn, Thakur Singh Rana, told the newspaper that he would set himself on fire if authorities were to try to demolish his hotel. “The authorities should first give us adequate compensation,” It’s not just about me but the people of Joshimath. I am fighting for their rights.”

R Meenakshi Sundaram, the secretary to the chief minister, urged the residents to allow the demolition, saying that the two hotels pose a threat to lives and surrounding structures. She added that homes marked with cross marks only need to be vacated and will not be demolished.

‘Wrong impression should not be created’: CM

Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami told reporters that an impression was being created that the whole of Uttarakhand was in danger, adding this was not the case.

“Such an impression should not be created,” he said, according to PTI. “We are going to have the international winter games in Auli in February. The Char Dham Yatra will also begin in a few months.”

He said that a balance should be struck between ecology and economy while carrying out development work.

Meanwhile, the Uttarakhand government told the Delhi High Court on Thursday that teams of the National and State Disaster Response Forces have been deployed in Joshimath and that many residents have been relocated, reported Live Law.

“We have deployed NDRF [National and State Disaster Response Forces], we are working on the issue,” the government’s counsel told the court. “We have resettled and relocated many people, we are working on that. We are seized of the matter. Groundwork is being done.”

The court was hearing a plea filed by one Rohit Dandriyal, who has claimed that construction done by the ministries of Road Transport and Highways and Power, New and Renewable Energy, in the town of Joshimath has “worked as a catalyst” behind the crisis