Joshimath land subsidence | How much our hill stations can take? Check here

The prevailing matter of Joshimath land subsidence has brought attention towards the affordability of hill stations in our country. A recent report has claimed that close to five crores tourists – 3.8 crore Kanwar Yatris and 45 Lakh Char Dham pilgrims – visited Uttarakhand.

As 2022 witnessed the highest footfall in the state, the subject of infrastructure availability, carrying capacity of hill towns, scientific study, and several other queries regarding the well being of the hill stations have started gaining a lot of traction.

According to a report published in Times of India, Joshimath noted as many as 4.9 lakh visitors in 2019, 4.3 lakh in 2018 and 2.4 lakh in 2017. Similarly, Char Dham towns had 24 lakh devotees in 2017 and the number increased multifold in 2022. In 2017, Mussorie had 27 Lakh visitors, 30 Lakh each in 2018 and 2019, 10 Lakh in 2020 and 12 Lakh in 2021.

The founder of Doon-based Himalayan Environment Studies & Conservation Organisation (HESCO), Anil Joshi believes it is high time we must learn from the experience of Joshimath, and a scientific study of hill towns needs to be conducted.

“In 1976, there were just a few thousand of people in Joshimath but due to migration, the number has now gone upto 25,000. There is a limit for each town and we need to keep that in mind,” Mr. Joshi told TOI.

He further stated that due to repeated negligence by authorities concerned, the Joshimath issue does not come as a shock to him. He suggested against the construction of any facility beyond 1,000 metres.

“The issue was flagged in 1976, but no one took note of it. A river is flowing beneath, but no one is bothered and urbanisation is gaining pace. We will have to become more serious towards the environment and also the future of our children,” Mr. Joshi added.

Meanwhile, the founder of Social Development for Communities, Anoop Nautiyal, who has been conducting surveys in the region, claimed that the Joshimath incident is an alarming sign and urged the administration to take immediate steps towards the right direction.

“Joshimath-like incidents are waiting to happen in Uttarakhand and it is just a matter of days, weeks, months or years before any similar incident. We have to manage and mitigate the situation,” added Mr. Nautiyal.

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