regular-article-logo Sunday, 04 June 2023

Joshimath residents accuse govt of offering insufficient compensation

Government cannot reach those affected people who have taken shelter outside the town, says revenue department official

Piyush Srivastava Lucknow Published 12.03.23, 03:32 AM
Homeless residents protest in Joshimath.

Homeless residents protest in Joshimath. File picture

Joshimath residents on Saturday accused the state government of offering insufficient compensation for their subsidence-damaged houses and of undercounting the affected families, as their dharna at the tehsil office entered its 66th day.

“The government is assessing the value of the buildings damaged by the land subsidence, but not including the land on which the building stood,” said Atul Sati, convener of the Joshimath Bachao Sangharsh Samiti, which is leading the dharna.


“It won’t be possible for people to resettle anywhere with the compensation the government is offering.”

Ramesh Raturi, a resident, alleged that the government was counting only those affected families that had moved into its shelter homes.

He echoed Sati, saying: “Government officials come and tell us the amount they have fixed for us as compensation. They ask us to submit an affidavit saying we would not claim anything after receiving the cheque.

“I had bought a plot of land for Rs 10 lakh and built a house on it, spending Rs 16 lakh, about 15 years ago. But the government wants to pay me Rs 16 lakh as compensation, ignoring my claim on the land.”

Kumkum Joshi, sub-divisional magistrate of Joshimath, said the government had identified 868 buildings — not all residential — that had developed cracks since January. Of these, 44 houses were occupied solely by tenants.

In the government records, 810 people from 217 families have been identified as displaced.

Raturi contested these figures. “The number of damaged buildings is more than 2,500. More than 4,000 people have abandoned their damaged houses,” he said.

“The government doesn’t count them because they are not living in the shelter homes of the government.”

A revenue department official told reporters on the condition of anonymity: “The government cannot reach those affected people who have taken shelter outside Joshimath. They should contact us for assessment of their properties and compensation.”

A group of about 10 youths began a 300km padyatra from Joshimath to Dehradun on Friday to “spread awareness about the real problems in Joshimath”.

Sati said the marchers would alert people to the dangers of hydropower projects in the ecologically sensitive state. Many residents blame a hydropower project for the land subsidence in Joshimath, but the government and power utility NTPC have denied this.

Sati referred to how some government scientists had unofficially “confirmed that the under-construction tunnel of the Tapovan-Vishnuprayag (hydropower) project is a major reason for the land subsidence in Joshimath”.

“The situation is such that Joshimath won’t survive even a minor earthquake,” he said. The NTPC denies that the tunnel passes under Joshimath.

The government is installing prefabricated houses in Dhak village near Joshimath for those affected families that would prefer state-sponsored resettlement instead of cash compensation. Initially, 15 houses with one, two or three bedrooms are to be installed.

SDM Joshi told reporters that 357 families had applied for cash compensation and that a sum of Rs 1.39 crore had been distributed among six families.

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