DODA: Nineteen families were evacuated after their homes developed cracks at a village in Jammu and Kashmir’s Doda district, officials said on Friday.
The authorities also declared unsafe a mosque and a religious school for girls at Nai Basti village in Thathri, 35 kilometres from Doda town along the Kishtwar-Batote National Highway.
A few structures in the village started developing cracks a couple of days ago but the situation was exacerbated by a landslide on Thursday with the number of buildings damaged reaching 21.
“We have shifted 19 affected families to a safer location after their houses were rendered unsafe. We are observing the situation and taking steps as per need to ensure their safety,” Sub-Divisional Magistrate (Thathri) Athar Amin Zargar said.
The deputy commissioner and the senior superintendent of police visited the spot and assured all help to the affected families, he said.
He further mentioned that the administration has been working to constitute a team to assess the situation. He said, “A preliminary assessment was done last night and a Geologist of National Highway also came here in the night and in the morning. They will submit their assessment report by this evening.”
“The DM has talked to the Director of Geology Mining and they too are constituting a proper team for the assessment of the situation to find the actual reasons behind it. Attempts are being made to save the area, but it has sunk. It would be difficult to save it. The government is trying to find a solution so that the damage does not reach other nearby areas,” the Doda SDM added.
Zargar, however, refused to compare the situation to that in Uttarakhand’s Joshimath — the gateway to famous pilgrimage sites like Badrinath and Hemkund Sahib — that is facing a major challenge due to land subsidence.
“Comparing the situation in Nai Basti with the sinking town of Joshimath will be an exaggeration. We are faced with a problem of landslide and geologists from Chenab Valley power projects and National Highways Authority of India have already inspected the site,” Zargar said.
While some families have shifted to a temporary shelter set up by the district administration, many others have returned to their ancestral homes.
“We are making all necessary arrangements, including food and electricity, at the campsite,” Zargar said.
Zahida Begum, whose family was shifted to a temporary site, said they lived in the village for 15 years and were surprised to notice cracks in concrete houses.
“There is panic among 50-plus households in the village. Majority of the structures developed cracks after Thursday’s landslide,” she said, demanding proper rehabilitation for the affected families.
“We are very much scared to stay here. We cannot even sit inside our home because the entire area has developed cracks. We seek an appropriate place to stay and provide protection to the children,” she said.
Meanwhile, another local citizen there said that they have been assured of the appropriate measures to prevent any untoward incident here.
Farooq Ahmad, another local resident, said 117 members of 19 families of policemen, ex-servicemen, defence personnel and labourers were relocated.
Nai Basti was developed about two decades ago and there was no such problem, he said.
“The DC has come here and has assured us the safety, but we request the administration to provide rehabilitation to those six houses which have been severely damaged,” said another local.
Earlier on Wednesday, a three-storey building collapsed at the Narwal Yard Transport Nagar Area of Jammu, however, the officials said that there were no casualties reported as the people were evacuated before the incident took place.
The reported incidents in the districts of Jammu are similar to the atrocities faced by the people in Joshimath town of Uttarakhand’s Chamoli where severe land subsidence has sunken the holy place in the state.
Last month, hundreds of residents were shifted to relief centres in safe places after cracks appeared at several homes in Joshimath, suggesting subsidence. The reports of the widening of cracks also came to the fore after the town received heavy snowfall in January.