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Sinking land on Tehri dam periphery worries residents

Kavita Upadhyay
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One of the houses damaged during the June landslips this year.- Photos: Kavita Upadhyaya
One of the houses damaged during the June landslips this year.- Photos: Kavita Upadhyaya

D. N. Nautiyal and his wife live in a house full of cracks caused when a landslip hit it in June this year. The landslip was triggered partly by heavy monsoon rain and partly by sinking land – which is affecting all the houses on the periphery of the Tehri dam reservoir.

Mr. Nautiyal, a resident of the Thalla Uppu village, is forced to work despite his old age. “My house and agricultural land got submerged when the dam reservoir filling began a few years back.”

Tehri residents continue to live amid sinking houses and landslips every few metres. Most of the damage is on the periphery of the 42 sq-km dam reservoir.

Mr. Nautiyal has now constructed another house at a much higher altitude. He also built a small flour mill for his financial stability. However, the mill got completely washed away when rain wreaked havoc this June. The house too has developed several cracks. “Though I tried to repair the house but it is only a temporary solution since the land here is sinking. Sooner or later it will destroy the building anyway,” Mr. Nautiyal said.

Tehri district was struck by the massive mid-June rain that annihilated much of the State.

However, destruction upstream and downstream of the dam reservoir continued for more than two months after the mid-June disaster. The residents said destruction in the area is a continuous phenomenon and so is the neglect by the State government.

Every year a series of landslips hit the area, especially during the monsoon. This year the monsoon resulted in new landslips and a lot more kilometres of damaged roads. The only relief for the residents is that the blocked roads have been opened for vehicles to pass.

With the landslips, broken roads and sinking houses not been taken care of, the residents have been left in the lurch by the administration.

Tehri Hydro Development Corporation Additional General Manager U. K. Thakur said, “A survey of the villages that have been reported as sinking or affected by landslips is being carried out. The report will be submitted to the State government.”

Restoring suspended work on bridges and constructing new ones is also pending. The residents of Pratap Nagar have to cover almost 80 km by road to reach New Tehri as the bridge connecting the two places is incomplete.

In August, around 50 villages above the dam got completely cut off as the bridge located at Chinyalisaur got completely submerged as the water level in the dam increased. Tehri District Magistrate Nitesh Kumar Jha told The Hindu , “We move the people who are under immediate threat. We have given a compensation of more than Rs.25 crore to the families that were affected in the disaster.”

Some families whose houses are within the dam flood zone continue to reside in their houses. Sushila Rawat from Asena village said, “Around 17 families in our village have not received complete compensation. We will not leave the place until we receive the payment.”

Anand Swaroop of Palash village said, “We are sandwiched between landslips from the hills above us and the reservoir below us. With the sinking of the hills and consequential landslips more disasters are bound to occur.”

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