In what can be termed a huge warning to Himalayan states, including Arunachal Pradesh, Joshimath, a popular tourist destination in Uttarakhand and a place of strategic importance to the Indian Army, is on the verge of sinking completely. Built on an ancient landslide site, Joshimath always had low bearing capacity. Decades of construction work and an explosion of the population only led to further damage. Now, 600 families have been evacuated from the sinking place as cracks developed in 500 houses in the area.
Hydroelectric projects and the expansion of the Rishikesh-Badrinath National Highway (NH 7) have made the slopes in Joshimath unsteady. Soil erosion due to running streams from Vishnuprayag and sliding along the natural streams has also contributed to the declining state of affairs in the town. Experts had been warning for decades that the town is not capable of handling the construction activities that have only increased over the years. What is happening in Joshimath should worry the policymakers in the state. In Arunachal Pradesh, rampant construction of hydropower dams and increasing deforestation pose huge challenges.
The experts have repeatedly issued a warning in Arunachal too that the construction of too many hydro projects will put the lives and properties of people at risk. Nobody is taking it seriously, including the state government. Now after witnessing the tragedy unfolding in Joshimath, can the state government afford to ignore the warnings of the experts?