Demolition of 'unsafe' buildings in subsidence-hit Joshimath in Uttarakhand resumed on Saturday as the weather improved.
Snowfall and rain in various parts of Uttarakhand on Friday had intensified the cold, adding to the woes of people of Joshimath living in temporary relief camps. "Dismantling of unsafe hotels and houses in Joshimath has been temporarily halted due to bad weather," Chamoli District Magistrate Himanshu Khurana had said.
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According to officials, 863 houses in Joshimath have developed cracks following land subsidence and 274 families have been moved to temporary relief centres.
On Saturday, drilling machines and bulldozers were back to dismantle hotels -- Malari Inn and Mount View -- and the PWD's inspection bungalow as weather cleared in the morning.
"Providing relief to affected people in Joshimath is among the top priorities of Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami at present," an official release here said.
Adequate arrangements have been made at temporary relief centres for the affected people to protect them from cold.
Heaters and blowers have been supplied to 76 families, thermal wears to 110 people, hot water bottles to 175, woollen caps to 516, warm socks to 280 and shawls to 196 people, it said. Foodgrain kits have been supplied to 771 people, blankets to 601 and daily use kits to 114, the release added.
While the demolition continues, there is another tragedy playing out in this Himalayan town – many dogs, cattle and other domestic animals left untended as their owners navigate the life-changing crisis.
The displacement is at many levels, say animal rights activists who have rushed to the once bustling town of Joshimath to keep the voiceless safe. “Any disaster is as much a crisis for animals as it is for humans,” said Rubina Iyer from People for Animals (PFA) Uttarakhand.
“We want to ensure the safety and welfare of the animals. People are taking care of humans, and we are here for the animals,” Ms. Iyer, who travelled from Dehradun to Joshimath along with her colleagues to help rescue affected animals, told PTI.
Neha Saklani, whose house in Sunil area on the way to Auli was heavily damaged during the subsidence event, said they have four pets. “One of them is with us in the hotel, while the three others are at our house. But we check on them in the day and feed them,” she said. Ms. Iyer said surveys are being carried out for a count of pets or stray animals and, if required, help with shifting them to shelter homes.
So far, 200 dogs, 300 cattle, and 20 equines have been identified in surveys from the affected areas, said Shreya Paropkari from Humane Society International/India (HSI).
HSI also plans to sterilise dogs so there are no puppies born during this calamity as it will be difficult for them to survive.
Chief Veterinary Officer, Chamoli, D. Pralayankar Nath said the Animal Husbandry Department here is taking all precautions and making necessary arrangements to shelter stray animals and pets.
“For cattle, we are making two shelters in Sunil ward and in Ravigram area. We are distributing compact feed and green fodder. Pets are being provided feed and the necessary help,” said Mr. Nath, who has been stationed in Joshimath since January 2. “We are taking help from the NGOs to identify any affected or abandoned pets so that we can shift them to shelters and take care of them,” he said.