The town of Joshimath in Uttarakhand’s Chamoli district is sinking. More than 700 houses are known to have developed cracks and nearly 150 families have been moved to safer locations. The Uttarakhand and Central governments are scrambling to deal with a problem that is now a full-fledged crisis. Teams of scientists have been deployed to investigate reasons behind the sinking of the town.
For years, friends of the Himalayas have been warning that unchecked building activity, including the construction of dams, could jeopardise the lives and livelihoods of people not just in Uttarakhand but impact those living in downstream areas.
Ravi Chopra, founder director of the People’s Science Institute, is one of those who has been watching the impact of so-called development on the Himalayas for more than three decades from his perch in Dehradun. Last year, he resigned as the chair of a high-powered committee to study the impact of expanding the road network to service the many shrines in Uttarakhand.
Ravi has just returned from Joshimath and he has joined us to discuss what’s happening there.