Wednesday, January 11, 2023

Joshimath Sinking

By now, the unfolding tragedy in the mountain town of Joshimath in the Uttarakhand Himalaya is national news. Land subsidence is destroying homes. Many families have been left with no choice but to leave and resettle elsewhere. 

Journalist Kavita Upadhyay has written a good explainer on Joshimath's predicament. 

How heavy, unplanned construction and complex geology is sinking Joshimath.

And yesterday, News9 Plus with Kartikeya Sharma invited Kavita Upadhyay, along with another journalist Nivedita Khandekar, and geologist Hars Vats, to discuss not just Joshimath but also the vulnerabilities of Himalayan towns across the mountain arc. 

Their conversation is on Spotify- Joshimath Sinking

Repeated warnings by geologists were ignored for decades. As Sunita Narain points out in this Down To Earth article, engineers and technocrats with little understanding of the environmental and ecological issues are in charge of passing plans for big power projects. For Joshimath, all the relief measures are probably too late to make the town safe again, but if the destruction of this important historic town does not usher in a national soul searching about the way in which the Himalaya are being developed for tourism and hydropower, then I fear there will be much more pain and suffering in the future. 

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