Fresh cracks developed on Sunday in a civic authority building which was being used to store relief material in Uttarakhand’s Joshimath town , the Hindustan Times reported.

The Himalayan town is facing a crisis as hundreds of homes have developed alarming cracks due to subsidence or sinking of the land in the region. Experts have long warned that rampant construction in and around the town, including work for projects by companies such as state-owned National Thermal Power Corporation, could lead to land subsidence.

On Sunday, cracks in a Municipal Board car parking building, being used to store relief material, led authorities to start shifting three families to safer locations. The district administration is currently using the third floor of the building to keep relief material, while families of staff members live on the lower floors.

Dipu, a municipal staffer, said that his family has been living there for 12 years, and that old cracks have been widening at an alarming rate in the last two to three days. “One can easily poke one’s finger inside the cracks which was not possible earlier,” he said, according to the Hindustan Times.

Demolition work at two hotels in the town – Mount View and Malari Inn – was underway on Sunday. The administration is demolishing the hotels as the two buildings are leaning towards one another, posing a threat to several surrounding homes.

Meanwhile, two more hotels in Joshimath – Snow Crest and Comet – were seen dangerously tilting towards one another, PTI reported.

“The gap between the two hotels was around four feet earlier but now it has narrowed to just a few inches with their roofs nearly touching each other,” Puja Prajapati, the daughter of the owner of Snow Crest, said.

Wider cracks have also appeared near a ropeway that connects Joshimath to the skiing destination of Auli. The ropeway was suspended from operation a week earlier, when land subsidence worsened.

According to a bulletin by the Chamoli District Disaster Management Authority on Sunday, cracks have been seen at 826 buildings in Joshimath. A total of 165 structures are in unsafe zones.

Till Sunday, 233 families comprising 798 persons were temporarily shifted to safer places, the administration said.

Authorities have distributed monetary compensation of Rs 2.49 crore to 396 families till Sunday.

Supreme Court refuses plea

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court on Monday refused to hear a plea seeking to declare the crisis in Joshimath as a national disaster, PTI reported.

The court directed petitioner Swami Avimukteshwaranand Saraswati to approach the Uttarakhand High Court. In his plea, Saraswati blamed large-scale industrialisation of the town for the current situation.

“We don’t want anyone to use these proceedings only for sound bytes for social media,” a bench of Chief Justice DY Chandrachud and Justices PS Narasimha and JB Pardiwala said, according to the Hindustan Times.