The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) on Friday directed all departments and organisations associated with survey and data collection in Joshimath, which has been hit by land subsidence, not to interact with the media or share any data on social media.
The direction came after the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) said in a report that the town in Uttarakhand sank 5.4 cm between December 27 and January 8. The report and the satellite images were later withdrawn from the ISRO website.
“It is observed that various government institutions are releasing data related to the subject matter (Joshimath) on social media platforms and they are interacting with media with their own interpretations of the situation. It is creating confusion not only among the affected residents but also among the citizens of the country,” the NDMA said.
It said the issue of institutions talking to the media was highlighted during a meeting with Union Home Minister Amit Shah, and added that an expert group had been formed to assess the situation on the ground in Joshimath.
The communication by the NDMA was directed to the officials of Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology, Dehradun; Indian Institute of Technology, Roorkee; Central Building Research Institute; Roorkee; Geological Survey of India, Kolkata; National Remote Sensing Centre of the Indian Space Research Organisation; National institute Of Disaster Management, New Delhi; Indian Institute Of Remote Sensing, Dehradun; National Geographical Research Institute, Hyderabad; Central Ground Water Board, New Delhi; and Surveyor General Of India, among others.
“You are requested to sensitise the organisation about this matter and refrain from posting anything on social media until the final report of the expert group is released,” the NDMA order said.
The satellite images released by the National Remote Sensing Centre of the ISRO showed that the central part of Joshimath town, Army helipad and Narsingh Mandir – the winter seat of Lord Badrinath – had witnessed rapid subsidence.
Separately, Uttarakhand Cabinet Minister Dhan Singh Rawat told The Hindu that the State government had spoken to the ISRO and other organisations and told them not to share reports that could create panic among residents.
Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami also asked the media not to portray images that Joshimath was “literally sinking”.
“We are all set to witness an international winter games tournament in Auli next month. Even the Char Dham Yatra will start in April. The kind of sentiments being created across the world that entire Uttarakhand is in danger. This is not right. I understand that development is happening very speedily in the State, as said by some people. So, we will try to make a balance between economy and ecology in future,” Mr. Dhami said.