Responding to the Supreme Court’s decision of refusing to entertain a petition seeking to declare the Joshimath crisis as ‘national disaster’, and asking the petitioners to approach the Uttarakhand High Court, Atul Sati, convener of the Joshimath Bachao Sangharsh Samiti, said that his ‘apprehension’ was proved true.
‘Justice has been denied us by the HC last time. Now who will pay for the damage,” questioned Mr Sati.
Informing about the public interest litigation (PIL) petition filed by him and four other people, including Sohan Singh (grandson of Chipko Movement’s leader Gaura Devi), Mr. Sati said that the Supreme Court asked the petitioners to go to the same court (Uttarakhand HC) that had called him ‘puppets’ and had declined his petition in 2021 after imposing a penalty of ₹50,000.
In February 2021 floods, over 200 people had died at Raini village in Joshimath. Later, the locals had approached the Uttarakhand High Court where then Chief Justice Raghvendra Chauhan had rejected the petition in the first hearing itself.
“In that appeal, we requested the High Court to order for reconsidering the NTPC power project in Joshimath and ban the activities of environmental destruction in this area. The justice then had called us ‘puppets’. Today, the same project has become a threat to the existence of a town,” he said.
Enraged with ‘inaction’ of the government against the NTPC, posters of ‘Go back NTPC’ have been put up in the town. Almost every second house and shop has a poster demanding an immediate ban on the power project in the area.
The Joshimath Bachao Sangharsh Samiti (JBSS) has also announced to organise a protest across the town on January 26th. Demanding the government to take money for the rehabilitation of Joshimath from the NTPC, the villagers will stage a protest at the Tehsil office on the Republic Day.
Meanwhile, the Secretary of Disaster Management department in the Uttarakhand government, Ranjit Kumar Sinha on Monday informed that the water discharge from newly formed cracks have reduced three times.
“The initial discharge of water from the cracks which were formed near JPVL and other places was 540 LPM on 6 January 2023. The same was presently reduced to 163 litre per minute. Also, three seismic measurements machines have been installed in Joshimath by the experts of the Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology, from which the data is also being obtained,” he added.
Meanwhile, 23 more houses were declared as ‘damaged’ by the district administration on Monday taking the toll of total damaged houses to 849. Among the 849 homes, 165 are totally unfit to live in.