Dehradun: Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami on Wednesday visited the subsidence-hit Joshimath town and announced interim assistance for the affected people even as protests by residents of Joshimath who are demanding compensation on the lines of that given for Badrinath stalled the demolition of unsafe structures in the area.
“We stand with the people of Joshimath. The prime minister is personally monitoring the situation. I have his full support. Their (affected people) interest will be taken care of,” he said on his arrival in Joshimath. Compensation will be given according to the market rate which will be ascertained after taking stakeholders into confidence, said the chief minister who visited houses that have developed cracks more recently and spoke to the affected people.
Interim assistance of Rs1.5 lakh is being given to the affected people and details of relief and rehabilitation are being worked out, Mr Dhami said.
An impression is being created that the whole of Uttarakhand is in danger which is not correct, said the chief minister. “We are going to have the international winter games in Auli in February. The Char Dham yatra will begin in a few months. This kind of wrong impression should not be created,” he said.
Mr Dhami said there should be a “balance between ecology and economy” wherever development work is being carried out.
Meanwhile, evacuation of affected families continued with 18 more shifted to temporary relief centres. A total of 145 families have been evacuated so far from the danger zone in Joshimath, said the disaster management authority, Chamoli.
Two hotels, the seven-storied Malari Inn and the five-storied Mount View, stand precariously in the subsidence zone posing a threat to more than a dozen houses. Preparations to demolish them mechanically with the help of the Roorkee-based Central Building Research Institute, which carried out the demolition of Noida’s twin towers, began on Tuesday itself but the exercise hit a hurdle when owners of the two hotels supported by locals sat on a protest, demanding compensation along the lines of what was offered to those displaced by the Badrinath renovation masterplan.
Earlier, Mr Meenakshi Sundaram, secretary to the chief minister, met the protesting people and assured them that adequate compensation according to market rates will be given. “The market rate will be decided after taking suggestions of the stakeholders in public interest. The interests of the local people will be taken care of,” he said.
“I want to clarify one thing. Only two hotels are to be dismantled… Houses in the danger zone are not going to be demolished. The red cross marks put on them is only to have them vacated,” said Mr Sundaram, who is also the nodal officer for the land subsidence-hit town.
People of the are continued to sit on dharna and refused to allow authorities to raze the hotels. “We want compensation along the lines of Badrinath. The secretary to the chief minister said it was not possible. He said compensation as per market rate could be given. But when we asked what would be the market rate, he said he did not know,” said Mr Thakur Singh Rana, the owner of Malari Inn.