Cracks appear on key Badrinath highway | India News


DEHRADUN: Scientists involved in studying Joshimath’s land subsidence told TOI on Tuesday that snow and rain – which began on January 20 – had caused “significant” cracks on the strategically key National Highway-58, which is the sole motorway leading to the pilgrim town of Badrinath and Mana, the final Indian village towards the China border.
A senior scientist, who’s on the ground, said, “This is basically ground settlement, a phenomenon which we also call ‘side and subsidence’. It means that the earth below the road is unstable and hence cracks appear on the road surface. The pattern is similar to what we have witnessed in Joshimath town so far.”
Things could get worrisome as the met department has predicted another heavy spell of snow and rain in the coming days, which may further impact the cracks. Director of regional meteorological centre, Bikram Singh, said, “Three districts — Chamoli, Uttarkashi and Pithoragarh, along with the higher reaches of Dehradun — will witness heavy snowfall at altitudes above 2,500m, starting Tuesday night.”
The latest development has left the state administration as well as residents in and around Joshimath even more anxious as people usually take the highway route to visit other places in Chamoli district. Supplies pass via this road too. D S Rawat, a resident of Manohar Bagh in Joshimath, said, “NH-58 is the only lifeline from Chamoli to Mana. There is no other entry or exit point to Mana, Badrinath, Hemkund, Valley of Flowers, Pakhi, Helang, Pandukeshawr and Joshimath. The road stretch has cracks at various places. This highway needs to be salvaged on priority not only for us but also for the armed forces stationed in Joshimath along the border villages.”
Another resident, Badri Prasad Nainwal, pointed out that around 25 lakh vehicles used the NH last year, which is way beyond the carrying capacity of a mountainous road. “With Badrinath yatra later this year, the road would again come under a lot of stress,” he added.
Convener of Joshimath Bachao Sangharsh Samiti, Atul Sati, said, “Both the roads that lead to Badrinath from Joshimath via Narsingh ward or through the main market have developed fresh cracks and fissures. This is cause for worry for our military too.”
District magistrate of Chamoli, Himanshu Khurana, added, “Border Road Organisation has been asked to repair the highway on priority considering its strategic importance and the Char Dham yatra. The cracks have emerged after the recent rain and snowfall.”
Secretary of disaster management, Ranjit Kumar Sinha said, “I’m aware of the cracks on the roads within the Joshimath town but do not have much information about other stretches on the highway. Our team of experts is studying the road cracks within the town and we’ll get it repaired after getting technical reports from relevant institutions. Things need to be done from a long-term perspective.”


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