Thursday, March 30, 2023

Rehabilitation work in full swing in Joshimath: Uttarakhand government to Delhi High Court

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The Delhi High Court was apprised by the Uttarakhand government on Thursday that it has taken cognisance of land subsidence at Joshimath and that efforts were underway to rehabilitate and resettle the residents from the disaster-prone town to safer places.

Appearing for the State of Uttarakhand, Deputy Advocate General J.K. Sethi told the Division Bench of Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Subramonium Prasad that both the Central and state governments were working in tandem to tackle the natural crisis.

He said the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and the State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) have been deployed in the town and nearby areas. Besides relocating several people to safer places, the governments have also prepared a rehabilitation package, he added.

The High Court was hearing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by Delhi-based lawyer Rohit Dandriyal, who is also a permanent resident of Uttarakhand’s Pauri district, seeking constitution of a high-powered joint committee to look into the cracks that have appeared in several homes at Joshimath.

The petitioner-in-person apprised the High Court that the Supreme Court has denied an urgent hearing on a similar plea. 

Dandriyal urged the High Court to form a committee headed by a retired judge of the High Court, comprising representatives of all Ministries involved in development work in the area, so that a plan could be devised for rehabilitation of the residents.

The lawyer argued that he has also given a representation to the Central government seeking constitution of a committee, but it was yet to be decided.

The holy town, housing around 17,000 people, is located in Chamoli district of Uttarakhand, at a height of 1,800 meters above sea level.

The town acts as a gateway to the Char Dham shrine of Badrinath and to trekking sites like the Valley of Flowers. It was declared as a disaster-prone town after cracks started appearing in buildings and on roads.

According to the latest report from the district administration, over 720 homes in the town have developed cracks.

The High Court, while observing that it would hear the matter after the Supreme Court would take it up on Monday, listed the matter for further hearing on February 12.

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