Joshimath is a town in the Indian state of Uttarakhand. It is located in the Chamoli district and serves as the headquarters of the Garhwal division of the state. It is an important religious and educational center, and is home to several ashrams and temples, including the Sri Badrinath Temple. It is also a popular base for trekking and mountaineering in the surrounding Himalayan mountain ranges.
Many houses have developed cracks in the walls, floor and some are tilted. This is due to sinking which is taking place. ISRO NRSC report said that subsidence was slow between April and November 2022, during which Joshimath had sunk by 8.9 cm. But between December 27, 2022 and January 8, 2023, the intensity of land subsidence increased and the town sank by 5.4 cm in these 12 days. The report has been withdrawn from the public domain.
Although report is of interest to those with scientific knowledge , Uttrakhand government must have done it to avoid panic among the residents. But ISRO NRSC is not the only agency studying this phenomenon there are other agencies like NASA who are studying it through satellite.As we know that Himalayas are young mountains geologically and lots of seismic activity goes on. Is the subsidence the result of natural phenomena or man made disaster?
Mostly it seems to be the result of setting up a electricity plant, rapid uninhibited proliferation of houses, and hotels to cater to the tourists.
Whatever the reasons, the excessive interference in the designs of Nature is bound to be harmful to the humans. Subsidence refers to the sinking or settling of the ground surface. In Joshimath, subsidence can occur due to a variety of natural and human-induced factors. One possible cause is the withdrawal of groundwater, which can lead to compaction and settling of the soil.
Another potential cause is tectonic activity, such as the movement of faults or the uplift or erosion of adjacent land. Additionally, the construction of buildings and infrastructure on unstable or saturated soils can also lead to subsidence. Subsidence can cause damage to buildings and infrastructure, and can also increase the risk of landslides and flooding. It is important to identify the cause of subsidence in order to develop appropriate management strategies.
Another reason which is cited by the local residents is that some radioactive material had been buried in the area by Americans in 1960 for snooping on the Chinese military activities on the other side of the Himalayas.