Question From The Homeless In Hills

Source: The post is based on an article Question From The Homeless In Hills” published in The Times of India on 28th January 2023. 

Syllabus: GS 3 – Disaster Management  

Relevance: problems related to land subsidence in Uttarakhand 

News: The land subsidence of Joshimath has been caused due to the failure of the government as well as the judiciary. Moreover, it is not only Joshimath but there are other places also in Uttarakhand where the problem exists. 

How has the judiciary failed in preventing natural calamities in Uttarakhand? 

There were three such instances where timely action by the judiciary could have prevented the current Joshimath crisis.

Kedarnath flood, 2013: The Supreme Court in suo moto petition ordered that no further clearances should be granted to any hydroelectric power project in Uttarakhand.  The court also constituted an expert body to study the impact of hydroelectric power projects on the environmental degradation of Kedarnath. 

Justice Radhakrishnan committee found that under-construction and existing projects had aggravated the 2013 disaster and it recommended the cancellation of 23 out of 24 proposed HEPs in Uttarakhand. 

However, later another bench ordered the reconsideration of six of the proposed 24 projects. These six projects also got clearance from MoEF, ultimately leading to the environmental crisis in Uttarakhand. 

Case of widening Chardhaam route, 2018: The PIL petitioners argued that widening the route would lead to the cutting of the mountains and trees. This can cause landslides. SC took cognisance and ordered in 2020 that a narrower Intermediate Width would be implemented. 

However, in 2021 a new SC bench ordered the implementation of the Double Lane project in Uttarakhand. 

Rishi Ganga flood, 2021: After the flood, locals filed a PIL in the Uttarakhand High Court praying for the cancellation of the Rishiganga and Tapovan-Vishnugad HEPs, along with rehabilitation of Raini village. However, the court rejected the petitions and even fined the petitioners. 

Now, after the Joshimath land subsidence problems caused by the construction of HEP. Hence, the failure of the government and judiciary to address the issue resulted in the Joshimath crisis. 

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