New Delhi: The Congress demanded on Monday that the soil subsidence issue in Joshimath, Uttarakhand, be classified as a national calamity and that all construction projects there be put on hold until a report on the matter is produced by experts and environmentalists.
Due to the “unbridled development” in the area, the opposition party referred to it as a man-made tragedy and demanded increased compensation for each impacted residence. The ancient Joshimath town was to be preserved, and a new town would be built to help the locals get back on their feet.
Protect nature, urged Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge. The entire nation is concerned for and stands in solidarity with the residents of Joshimath where unchecked development has exposed fractures in Uttarakhand’s “Devsthal.” “The Joshimath tragedy has to be recognized as a “national calamity,” according to our list of three requests for the Modi administration.
“Stop all new projects, including of railways and hydel power, until a newly appointed high-level committee of experts, scientists, environmentalists, and local people submits its report,” he said in a series of tweets in Hindi.
“The oustees of Joshimath be given adequate compensation from PM CARES fund, instead of only Rs 5000,” Kharge also said.
Addressing a press conference, Congress spokesperson Pawan Khera said all development projects in the vicinity of Joshimath should be stalled till the advice of experts and locals is sought.
“We demand that after what is happening in Joshimath, the government should declare it a national calamity, as the state government is unable to handle the situation.
“This is a man-made disaster as all this is happening because of the tunnel of the NTPC that is being dug up and that should be filled up,” he told reporters, adding that the problem has erupted due to the blasting in the NTPC tunnel that is being dug up in the area.
He also alleged that the compensation given by the state to those whose houses have developed cracks is a “cruel joke” on the people of Joshimath.
Devendra Yadav, the Congress in charge of Uttarakhand affairs, alleged that the BJP government in the state does politics in the name of religion and is playing with the sentiments of people.
“The manner in which the BJP government in the state has acted on the Joshimath incident shows its insensitivity and callousness and we condemn its attitude.
“A Congress delegation will meet the chief minister soon and also submit a memorandum to the governor in this regard,” he also said.
Former chief minister Harish Rawat has also demanded that the compensation be increased to Rs 50,000 per victim and a ‘new Joshimath’ be established while preserving the old town.
The district administration has put red cross marks on more than 200 houses in the sinking town to declare them unsafe for life. It has asked their occupants to either shift to the temporary relief centers or rented accommodation for which each family will get the assistance of Rs 4000 per month for the next six months from the state government.
Congress leader Manish Khanduri said the first cracks in Joshimath had appeared in 2019 but the response of the BJP government in the state has been “shoddy and inadequate” and the chief minister was “found lacking”.
He also demanded that a comprehensive policy needs to be designed for the hills and the area be declared a national disaster zone.
Sujata Paul, a social worker active in the area, demanded that the work of the NTPC tunnel in the area be stopped immediately and claimed that the Char-Dham yatra route is a cause of what is happening in Joshimath.