Joshimath Land Sinking


  • Recently, the Joshimath town have developed major or minor cracks on the floors, ceilings and walls. Beams had been dislodged in many houses.

Key Causes of the land sinking

  • It has been heavily built-on, with hotels, resorts, and a bustling market that caters mainly to tourists, pilgrims, trekkers and personnel of the army and the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP).

    Joshimath Land Sinking
    Photo Credit: Times of India
  • Overly burdened with structures built without any regard for the land’s load-bearing capacity.
  • Joshimath’s geological setting, together with the unplanned and rampant construction.
  • Built on the deposits of an old landslide, which means the slopes can be destabilised even by slight triggers. The town is also in Zone V, denoting highest risk, in India’s seismic zonation scheme.
  • It lies between two thrusts, the Main Central Thrust (MCT) and the Vaikrita Thrust (VT), and thus occupies a seismically active terrain.
  • Highly active in terms of slope mobility.
  • Lies in a region that frequently receives high-intensity, focussed rainfall
  • Heavy construction work for the road is weakening the foundations on which Joshimath stands.
    • 6-km Helang-Marwari bypass, being built by the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) (825-km Char Dham highway expansion project)
    • NTPC’s 520-MW Tapovan Vishnugad hydropower project
  • Lack of drainage and wastewater disposal systems as being part of the subsidence problem.

Back to Basics

About Joshimath

  • Joshimath is a busy town in Chamoli district. 
  • After the 1962 India-China war, Joshimath emerged as a place of strategic importance.
  • It leads to villages along the India-China border and is also en route to Barahoti, a disputed territory along the border.
  • The town is also a gateway to noted sites of pilgrimage – Badrinath for Hindus and Hemkund Sahib for Sikhs; the international skiing site of Auli; and the Valley of Flowers, a UNESCO World Heritage site. 
  • It is home to one of the four cardinal pīthas established by Adi Shankara.

Source: TH

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