House in J&K Collapses; Joshimath-like Situation Prevailing

DODA; J&K: One of the houses in J&K collapsed a day after it had developed Joshimath-like cracks in the Doda area. Several other buildings are said to have developed similar fissures spreading fear among residents. The cracks are first said to have occurred in December last year which have now aggravated. At least two dozen residential houses have reported such cracks, causing fear and panic among local villagers. The Doda area falls under seismic zone 4, which indicates a high likelihood of destruction from earthquakes.

Cracks on the roads are also being reported. A team of revenue officials is visiting the site daily to take stock of the situation. As per Tehsildar Thathri Sahil Randhawa, 21 structures including 19 residences, one mosque, and one educational institution have been affected by the Joshimath-like cracks. Families of all 19 houses have been relocated, officials involved in the relocation said. So far around 300 individuals have been relocated from the area marked unsafe.

Randhawa said his office received a complaint in the first week of January that a house had developed cracks.  He said the cracks have increased in the last few days. “Initially only four houses were affected, but now 21 houses have developed cracks and of them, two houses have been totally damaged. Other houses having cracks are also caving in”. According to officials factors such as the construction of roads, seepage of water, heavy rains, and frequent earthquakes could have caused land sinking in the village.

The development brings back the spotlight on settlements and development projects in Himalayan towns. Joshimath has been held up as an example of how these can go wrong, with a combination of geological impact due to the construction of homes and business buildings, and larger projects like highways and dams, which together can pose a grave risk to the fragile topology of the mountains.

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