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Joshimath sinking: Demolition of hotels halted due to rain, poor light; to resume tomorrow

Joshimath sinking: There is a fear that the demolition of hotels may lead to another spell of damage to residences located nearby the hotels.

Reported By : Abhay Parashar Edited By : Raju Kumar
Joshimath (Uttarakhand)
Updated on: January 12, 2023 18:37 IST
Demolition of two hotels underway
Image Source : PTI Demolition of two hotels underway

Joshimath sinking: The administration halted the demolition of two precariously standing hotels in subsidence-hit Joshimath in Uttarakhand. The drive was paused due to poor light and rain in the area and it will be resumed again at 10 am on Friday.  

Meanwhile, on Thursday, the demolition was started amid protests from their owners and locals on the issue of compensation. 

Hotels Malari Inn and Mount View were leaning towards each other dangerously, posing a threat to the human settlements around the structures. The Uttarakhand government had directed the razing of unstable structures on Monday, starting with these two buildings. State Disaster Relief Force (SDRF) personnel, along with a JCB machine and workers, reached the site and announcements were made through loud hailers, asking people to keep their distance from the two hotels. The area was barricaded and the power lines were cut off.

Challenges in demolition drive

There is fear that the demolition drive may lead to another spell of cracks in homes nearby the hotels. To avoid further damage, a team of experts has been carrying out the demolition very carefully. 

Moves taken to avoid further damages-

  • Hammers and small cutters will be used
  • Demolition in a phased manner
  • 7-8 days will be taken to complete the demolition
  • CBRI's guidelines will be followed

Hotel owners' stand 
"There was no prior notice. If the government demarcated my hotel as unsafe, it should have first come up with a one-time settlement plan before deciding to demolish it," Thakur Singh, a hotel owner said. He demanded assurance from the administration in writing.

A large number of locals were also protesting, claiming that there was no clarity on how the people whose properties were to be demolished will be compensated.

Singh later claimed that he was sent an estimate of Rs 2.92 crore (worth of loss) and asked by the sub-divisional magistrate to sign it. "How can I sign it? I had spent Rs 6-7 crore on upgrading the hotel by 2011. I am with the state government so far as the safety of people is concerned but I do not agree with the amount being offered to me as compensation," he said.

Mount View owner Lalmani Semwal expressed similar sentiments. 

"It is like slaying a child one has reared through years of hard work in front of its parents," he said.
"We put all our resources into building this hotel. We paid regular taxes to the government. It said nothing then and now, all of a sudden, it comes up with a drastic decision like this. Isn't it a violation of human rights?

"If the government has decided, what can we say? But we should be offered a one-time settlement plan in compensation, on the lines of Badrinath," Semwal said.

CM on ground zero to pacify protesters

Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami on Thursday said a committee would decide the market rate for compensation to be paid to the families affected in Joshimath by keeping in mind the interests of stakeholders.

A 19-member committee headed by Chamoli District Magistrate Himanshu Khurana was set up on Wednesday to distribute an interim assistance of Rs 1.50 lakh among each affected family and decide the rate at which compensation is to be paid.

"People will get the best compensation possible. The state government will do all it can to properly rehabilitate them. Protecting their life and property is our top priority," Dhami said at a meeting with the committee.

On the Rs 1.50 lakh being paid immediately to each affected family for which Rs 45 crore has already been released, the chief minister said, "It is only an interim relief. Details of the final compensation and rehabilitation are being worked out." He said a wrong impression was being created about Joshimath that could hit the livelihoods of the local people.

"The winter games in Auli are beginning in February and the Char Dham Yatra in a few months. Sending a message outside Joshimath that the entire town is sinking is wrong. It will adversely impact the local economy," Dhami said. Dhami said only 20-25 per cent houses in Joshimath were affected by land subsidence and not the whole town -- an impression being wrongly created by some. "The disaster has hit 600-700 houses, which is only 20-25 per cent of the town's entire area. But an atmosphere is built around Joshimath that the whole town is sinking, which is not true," Dhami added.

He said creating an impression like this could harm the local people's livelihoods, which are based on tourism and pilgrimage.

Dhami said the interim assistance would reach the bank accounts of the families affected by this evening or Friday. He also called for a collective effort to strengthen the morale of people to overcome this phase.

The chief minister also held a meeting with Indo-Tibetan Border Police and National Disaster Response Force personnel deployed on the ground and scientists from different organisations studying the land subsidence problem in Joshimath.

(With PTI input)

Also Read: Joshimath Sinking: What's truth behind allegations over NTPC's tunnel for land subsidence? | Exclusive Report

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